US postal service ordered to check for delayed ballots in key battlegrounds

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — A judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to sweep mail processing facilities on Tuesday afternoon for delayed ballots and immediately dispatch any for delivery in about a dozen states including election battlegrounds such Pennsylvania and Florida.

USPS data presented in the case showed about 300,000 ballots that were received for mail processing did not have scans confirming their delivery to election authorities. While ballots may be delivered without delivery scans, voting rights groups fear mail delays could cause at least some of those votes to be disqualified

Affected by the order are central Pennsylvania, northern New England, greater South Carolina, south Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Alabama and Wyoming as well as the cities of Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Lakeland, Florida.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered postal officials to complete the inspections by 3 p.m. EST and certify by 4:30 p.m. EST that no ballots were left behind.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought by groups such as Vote Forward, a voting rights organization, and Latino community groups.

Many states will only count mailed ballots that are received by the end of Tuesday in their election results.

In August, USPS suspended cost-cutting moves such as removing post boxes and mail processing machines implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, an ally of President Donald Trump. State attorneys general and civil rights groups said the changes would slow election mail delivery and make it difficult for voters to participate during the coronavirus pandemic.

The postal service has said it had delivered 122 million blank and completed ballots before Tuesday.

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