Politics

Postal Service data shows poor mail-in ballot delivery rate in key swing states, judge suggests Postmaster General DeJoy might have to testify

Key Points
  • The Postal Service on Election Day failed to deliver a significant percentage of mail-in ballots to several states that could determine who wins the presidential contest between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden, data filed with a federal court suggested Wednesday.
  • The states seeing relatively poor levels of mail deliveries of ballots include Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin, all of which have yet to declare victors in their tallies for Trump and Biden.
  • The states affected include Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
  • Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan was furious at Postal officials for failing to inform him Tuesday of their failure to do sweeps at mail facilities for ballots by a mid-afternoon deadline.
Returned ballots, where the voter could not be located, are stacked in United States Postal Service containers during the 2020 Presidential election in Provo, Utah, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Postal Service on Election Day failed to deliver a significant percentage of mail-in ballots to several states that could determine who wins the presidential contest between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden, data filed with a federal court suggested Wednesday.

The states seeing relatively poor levels of mail deliveries of ballots include Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin, all of which have yet to declare victors in their tallies for Trump and Biden.

The current vote tallies in those states show thin margins between the two candidates. The outcomes in those states could hinge on the mailed-in ballots.

A Postal Service spokesman later Wednesday said that, "The assumption that there are unaccounted ballots within the Postal Service network is inaccurate."

"These ballots were delivered in advance of the election deadlines," the spokesman said.

"We employed extraordinary measures to deliver ballots directly to local boards of elections. When this occurs, by design, these ballots bypass certain processing operations and do not receive a final scan. Instead, they are expedited directly to the boards of elections. We remain in close contact with state and local boards of elections and we do not currently have any open issues. Additionally, the Postal Inspection Service has physically inspected all plants that process ballots."

The Postal Service also Wednesday told a federal judge that it had failed to comply with his order that Postal officials sweep mail facilities in 12 geographic areas for remaining ballots on Tuesday during the time frame set by the judge. The disclosures came in advance of hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Judge Emmet Sullivan, at that hearing, was furious with the failure of Postal officials to inform him on Tuesday of the failure to do the sweeps as ordered, as opposed to telling him on Wednesday, long after poll locations were closed nationwide.

"Someone may have a price to pay for that," said Sullivan, who also said that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy may have to testify or be deposed in the case.

"I'd like you to explain just what the heck happened yesterday," Sullivan told Joseph Borson, the Justice Department lawyer who is representing the Postal Service in the case. Borson said that the sweeps of the facilities already had been scheduled to happen after the 3 p.m. ET Tuesday deadline set by Sullivan, and that they could not be moved to earlier.

"The postmaster is either going to have to be deposed or appear before me and testify under oath about why some actions were not taken after the court issued its injunction," Sullivan said.

"Whether we should spend time on that today, I'm not sure we should, but I'm not going to forget it either."

Kevin Bray, the Postal Service executive responsible for mail processing in the election, testified about the ballot handling process when the hearing resumed.

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Democratic hopes of winning Florida were dashed Tuesday in no small part due to Biden's failure to rack up a large margin of victory over Trump in the Miami-Dade area, a region of South Florida that traditionally skews Democratic.

The data based on scans of ballot envelopes that were filed in Sulivan's courtd Wednesday suggested that in South Florida, just 85.12% of the mail-in ballots were delivered on Election Day.

Biden is expected to outperform Trump in mail-in balloting in multiple locations. Trump has cast doubt on the legitimacy of outstanding mail-in and absentee ballots where Biden's results threaten his path to an Electoral College victory.

In central Pennsylvania, just 61.3% of the mail-ballots in the postal system were delivered on time, based on the scan data in the court filing shows. In Philadelphia, slightly more than 66% of the mail-in ballots had been delivered on Election Day.

In Atlanta 82.2% percent of the mail-in ballots were delivered on Election Day, the court filing shows.

Detroit postal facilities reported less than 79% percent of mail-in ballots delivered that day.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, 72.9% percent of the mail-in ballots were delivered on Tuesday.

And in Lakeland, Wisconsin, slightly less than 77% of such ballots were delivered, the filing revealed.

Correction: The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. A summary in an earlier version had the wrong day.

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