Aug 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Report: USPS alerts 46 states of possible mail-in ballot delivery delays

A postal vehicle in front of a United State Postal Service facility in Chicago on Aug. 13.

A postal vehicle in front of a United State Postal Service facility in Chicago on Aug. 13. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The U.S. Postal Service alerted 46 states and Washington, D.C., that it cannot ensure ballots sent by mail in the general election will arrive in time to be counted, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Why it matters: The written warnings, issued at the end of July, indicate that USPS believes it may not be able to manage the sudden surge in mail-in voting due to the coronavirus, "adding another layer of uncertainty ahead of the high-stakes presidential contest," the Post writes.

  • As the November election inches closer, USPS operations have recently been reduced due to cost-cutting measures and organizational overhauls ordered by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
  • Late mail deliveries could disqualify votes across most of the U.S. — including in battlegroup states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
  • The results of the presidential race could be delayed for days after Nov. 3 if states choose to extend their mail-in voting deadlines.

What they're saying: The letters, sent by USPS's general counsel Thomas Marshall, caution that states' "deadlines for requesting, returning or counting ballots were 'incongruous' with mail service and that voters who send ballots in close to those deadlines may become disenfranchised," WaPo writes.

  • “The Postal Service is asking election officials and voters to realistically consider how the mail works,” Martha Johnson, a spokeswoman for the USPS, said in a statement, according to WaPo.

The big picture: In response to USPS's warnings, some states have begun altering their election deadlines.

  • Pennsylvania's officials asked the state Supreme Court to order that mail-in ballots remain countable as long as election officials receive them up to three days after the election.
  • President Trump vowed on Thursday to block demands to fund mail-in voting and the USPS, claiming without evidence that absentee ballots produce widespread voter fraud.

Democratic leadership told DeJoy in a letter Friday that the $25 billion requested for the USPS came from the agency itself and not from Democrats for universal mail-in voting, as Trump claimed on Thursday.

  • "On Tuesday — two days before the President made his admissions — your General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Thomas J. Marshall, sent two letters to Congress," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote.
  • "The first admitted that the Postal Service now lacks the funding necessary to fulfill its core mission. His letter included this stark warning: 'We are currently unable to balance our costs with available funding sources to fulfill both our universal service mission and other legal obligations.'"

The letter demanded that DeJoy provide documents and answers by Aug. 21 on changes they say could damage the Postal Service's ability to process mail-in ballots.

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