The number of submitted ballots that the Postal Service does not deliver before Election Day is expected to increase as more data is released in the coming days. Some electoral experts fear such delays could lead to more generous windows of vote acceptance that some states have already granted.
In some other states, late ballots will still be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received by Friday, according to state law. These include Nevada, where 4,518 votes arrived after Election Day, as well as North Carolina (2,958) and Pennsylvania (3,439). But in other states ̵1; such as Arizona, where 864 votes have been delayed, and Georgia, where 853 votes are delayed – votes that do not reach election officials before November 3 will eliminated.
Since the counting of votes is not conducted in those states, it is not clear whether the undelivered votes make a difference in the presidential election decision. But delivery failures highlight the risks of relying on mail service to deliver ballots near Election Day.
The Department of Post and Telecommunications has warned voters not to mail ballots within a week of the election. The Biden campaign changed its message to encourage voters to use a drop-box or direct ballot and avoid sending their ballots by mail within 10 days of election day. The Trump campaign’s message on the subject was mixed: The president unfoundedly declared voting by mail susceptible to fraud, even though he and first lady Melania Trump voted by mail at Florida and the campaign that followed have called on proponents to vote by mail after seeing Democrats growing in strength.
Under Postmaster Louis DeJoy, a major Trump financier who took over the agency in June, first-class mail delivery rates have steadily declined, especially in urban areas, where the Democratic voters are gathered. DeJoy said in public statements that facilitating an election in which a record 198 million Americans are eligible to vote by mail was his “sacred duty” and that the agency was complete mission. But the Postal Service’s summer struggles started into election season almost immediately when Americans began voting in October.
On Wednesday, the Postal Service processed 94.5% of the votes on time, an improvement from recent days, but well below the 97% rate that postal and voting experts expected. Based on the agency’s one to three-day ballot processing deadlines, voters will mail those ballots on Sunday or Monday.
For the remaining 5.5 percent, or more than 8,000, of the ballots that take longer to process, they will be mailed Thursday through Saturday.
Of the nine postal districts spanning five states – Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia – that have yet to decide the presidential race, the punctuality rate is 84.6 percent. That means about 15 out of 100 ballots at the processing plants were not graded – or delivered – in time.
A Postal Service representative did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.
On Election Day, postal workers are instructed to send more direct ballots to the voting counters, bypassing the processing plants reflected in the data submitted Thursday to Judge Emmet G Sullivan in the District Court of the US District of Columbia. Sullivan is overseeing one of the voting rights cases filed as a result of the Post Office’s clearly documented denial of service. But the delivery numbers have alarmed civil rights advocates who say the Post Office is an important and inevitable component of the electoral infrastructure for millions of Americans amid the coronavirus epidemic. .
“Voters sent their ballots in the mail before this week and over the weekend, and the only reason their votes were not counted was due to the delay of the USPS,” said Shankar Duraiswamy, a representative attorney. for civil rights group Vote Forward, said in court.
Justice Department attorneys representing the Post Office have warned that the figures are not reliable. The data does not include “first mile” and “last mile” processing steps, which can extend delivery times and only take into account items that the agency can successfully identify as votes. . The Postal Service also encourages post offices to manually collect local ballots and deliver them directly to the voting counters, bypassing the regional facilities for processing points. The agency cannot say how widely that method is being used.
The Postal Service reported to Congress on Thursday that it has processed 135 million ballots since September 4, including blank ballots from election officials to voters and returned ballots. success is returned to the voting counters.
More than half of the late votes processed Wednesday were in California, with 25,000 in San Diego alone. Another 16,000 are in the Bay-Valley post office just south of San Francisco and another 25,000 in the Sacramento and Los Angeles counties. Those ballots can come up to 17 days after an election and still count, according to state law.
As of Thursday afternoon, Biden is ahead of Trump in Nevada about 11,000 votes, with the remaining 11% going to be counted. If that lead narrows significantly, 4,000 late ballots could become a factor in that election.
In North Carolina, Trump is ahead of Biden by more than 70,000 votes with an estimated 95% of the vote. In Pennsylvania, Trump took a lead of more than 100,000 votes with the lead most analysts expect would disappear, eventually courting Biden. If those returns become close together, late mailing ballots can work.
In Arizona, Biden’s current 70,000-vote lead is unlikely to be affected by the roughly 400 late ballots found there. Similarly, the 800 votes in Georgia could only work if Trump’s current lead rate of more than 10,000 votes in the state shrinks significantly.
The Postal Service is under overlapping court orders to introduce “extraordinary remedies” to deliver election mail. Those steps begin October 20, and some will continue until the end of November. The agency has authorized local post offices to create polling-only lines for senders and ballot papers. vote lane to take place
Judges in Pennsylvania, New York, Washington state and the District of Columbia also ordered DeJoy to stop its controversial cost-cutting program, eliminate late and excess mailings and deliveries, and seek to cut 64 million hours of work. The equivalent of three weeks’ worth of jobs for its employees is 630,000.
The agency also removed more than 700 high-speed mail sorters, nearly 15% of inventories over the summer, a decision to reduce the Post Service’s handling capacity to 21.4 million paper mail per hour. . The agency typically delivers 450 million letters per day.
Almost immediately, postal performance suffers. In the first five weeks after DeJoy’s policies took effect, more than 7% of the nation’s first-class mail was delayed.
Managers have cut overtime while the pandemic has flattened the postal workforce. National backlog was recorded; According to trade union officials, some facilities take nearly a month to settle backlog. Meanwhile, package volumes soared as a country in the country patronized online shopping to avoid crowded stores.
Bulky boxes are harder to sort than paper letters and emphasize the already under-manned operation of the Postal Service. Packages often come with guaranteed delivery deadlines, and top supervisors sometimes prioritize their deliveries over daily mail, according to mail carriers. According to the Inspector General’s report, it resulted in an increase in document falsification when delivering packages, a problem that had plagued mail service for many years.
Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said the agency began scanning the facilities that process electoral messages, including voter registration information, ballot papers and voter registration applications, in January. It began to publicly reveal “all clear” daily scans – sometimes completed by inspector-general officials or agents from the US Postal Check service, law enforcement Law of the agency – on the last week of September by order of a federal court in New York. But those reports do not describe what the postman found in the tests, only indicating that the tests were completed, incomplete or failed.
In the 10 percent reporting, the Post Office either found ballots that should have been processed, failed the check or failed to report the results.
The agency publishes the results of one ballot scan throughout the entire election cycle. It reported to Sullivan on Wednesday that they found 815 ballots in processing plants in Texas.