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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  • Postmark requirements for ballots and voter addresses are out of date.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.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

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The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.