The postmaster general testifies to the Senate on Aug. 21. Photo: U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee via Getty Images

On-time delivery for priority mail has continued to drop after a steep decline on July 4, an internal briefing for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy released by the House Oversight Committee on Saturday shows.

Why it matters: The U.S. Postal Service alerted 46 states and Washington, D.C., at the end of July that it cannot ensure ballots sent by mail in the general election will arrive in time to be counted. The warnings were planned prior to DeJoy's appointment and before his now-suspended operational changes to the service, per the Washington Post.

Driving the news: DeJoy testified on Friday that the USPS "is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail fully and on time."

  • The postmaster general acknowledged a "dip in the level of service" in his testimony, per Fox News.

What's new: The Aug. 12 USPS briefing released by the committee marks a "sharp decline" in on-time delivery for priority mail beginning July 4. On-time priority mail deliveries fell from around 90% in early July to just under 80% by Aug. 1, the lowest delivery rate seen since at least this time last year.

  • Processing and last-mile deliveries for first class mail also declined after July 4, and dipped again in early August after making a small recovery.

The big picture: 54% of Americans polled in an online Harris Poll coronavirus survey from Aug. 14-16 said they noticed delays in mail or packages arriving at their homes over the prior few weeks.

What they're saying: “After being confronted on Friday with first-hand reports of delays across the country, the Postmaster General finally acknowledged a ‘dip’ in service, but he has never publicly disclosed the full extent of the alarming nationwide delays caused by his actions,” Oversight and Reform Committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a Saturday release.

  • DeJoy testified on Friday that Postal Service warnings to states about mail-in ballots, first reported by the Post, were made because state deadlines were too late to process votes.
  • "The Postmaster General looks forward to appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Monday," spokesperson Dave Partenheimer emailed in a statement.

The other side: "The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall," DeJoy wrote in a statement earlier this week, while noting he would halt operational changes and cost cuts to the USPS until after the 2020 election.

  • USPS rolled out a new election resource Friday that "strongly recommends that voters request ballots at the earliest point allowable, but no later than 15 days prior to the election date."
  • The USPS governing board is planning a bipartisan Election Mail Committee to oversee mail-in voting, amid scrutiny over the Trump administration's attempts to thwart mail-in ballots in November's general election.

Read the briefing:

Go deeper

How "naked ballots" could upend mail-in voting in Pennsylvania

Trump signs in Olyphant, Penn. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

N.C. election officials agree to accept absentee ballots a week after Election Day

Absentee ballot election workers work on ballot applications at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images

The North Carolina State Board of Elections on Tuesday announced it will tentatively count mail-in ballots received by Nov. 12 — up to nine days after the election — so long as they're postmarked on or before Election Day.

Why it matters: If approved by the court, the agreement — which settles a lawsuit brought by a group representing retirees — could see scores of additional votes counted in the crucial battleground state.

New interactive tool shows Biden's mail voting danger

Data: SurveyMonkey; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Voters who disapprove of President Trump most strongly are by far the most likely to vote by mail in the presidential election, according to an Axios analysis of exclusive data from SurveyMonkey and Tableau.

Why it matters: The new data shows just how strongly the mail-in vote is likely to favor Joe Biden — with potentially enormous implications in the swing states due to the greater risk of rejection with mail ballots.

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