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Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

The U.S. Postal Services' Office of the Inspector General found some unresolved issues within the agency that could impact its ability to efficiently process and deliver election mail with the general election just around the corner, according to an agency audit.

The big picture: More Americans than ever are expected to mail in their ballots in November's election as the coronavirus pandemic persists and voters aim to avoid possible exposure. The audit also comes as Democratic lawmakers worry that recent operational changes made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy threaten the USPS' ability to handle the anticipated surge in mail-in ballots.

  • Yes, but: DeJoy has suspended cost-cutting measures and modifications to mail-processing practices until after the election to "avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail."
"While the Postal Service has made progress in preparing for the 2020 general election, there are concerns surrounding integrating stakeholder processes with the Postal Service’s processes to help ensure the timely delivery of Election and Political Mail."
— USPS Office of the Inspector General report

The audit found:

  • Ballots are being mailed without barcodes for tracking.
  • Ballot mailpiece designs are causing improper processing.
  • Election and political mail is being sent too close to election day for the Postal Service to properly process it.
  • Postmark requirements for ballots and voter addresses are out of date.

The state of play: The report also looked at how the USPS handled mail-in ballots during some states' primaries.

  • The OIG found that nearly 1.6 million mailpieces (8%) weren’t delivered on time between April and June for seven facilities across the U.S., blaming lag times on a dearth of oversight.
  • Between June 2 and Aug. 13, over 1 million ballots were mailed to voters late.
  • In 11 states, over 44,000 ballots were sent from the election boards the day of or day before the primary elections.
  • In 17 states, over 589,000 ballots were sent to voters after the state's ballot mailing deadline.

What they're saying: “Timely delivery of Election and Political Mail is necessary to ensure the integrity of the U.S. election process," the OIG said in a release.

  • David Williams, USPS' executive vice president and chief logistics and processing operations officer, recommended that voters ask for their ballots 15 days or more before election day and mail ballots at least seven days ahead, the Washington Post reports, citing his response to the audit’s findings.

Go deeper

Pennsylvania certifies Biden's victory

Photo: Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pennsylvania officials on Tuesday certified the state's presidential election results, making President-elect Joe Biden's win in the key battleground official.

Why it matters: The move deals another blow to President Trump's failed efforts to block certification in key swing states that he lost to Biden. It also comes one day after officials voted to certify Biden's victory in Michigan.

CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers

Rochelle Walensky listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. on July 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky on Friday reiterated her decision to go against a recommendation by a CDC advisory panel that refused to endorse booster shots for workers whose jobs put them at high risk for contracting covid.

Driving the news: "Our healthcare systems are once again at maximum capacity in parts of the country, our teachers are facing uncertainty as they walk into the classroom," Walensky said at a Friday briefing. "I must do what I can to preserve the health across our nation."

Democrats release full text of Biden's $3.5T reconciliation package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday unveiled the full text of President Biden's $3.5 trillion social spending package.

Why it matters: Democrats are racing to finish negotiations and get the bill on the floor as soon as possible so Pelosi can fulfill her promises to both House centrists and progressives about the timing and sequencing of passing the party's dual infrastructure packages.