A U.S. District Judge has ordered that the USPS conduct a sweep of several mail sorting facilities on Tuesday to ensure that all mail-in ballots will be promptly delivered to state election boards.
According to The Hill and The Daily Beast, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of U.S. District Court for D.C. ordered that the USPS conduct sweeps at select mail sorting facilities between 12:30 p.m. ET and 3 p.m. ET to ensure "no ballots have been held up." Any ballots discovered in the sweet are to be immediately sent to election officials in the state.
Sullivan's ruling comes after record numbers of Americans participated in early and mail-in voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent months, the USPS has come under criticism for attempting to implement policy changes that would lead to slower mail delivery. While Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said those changes won't take place until after the election, reports indicate that USPS' on-time delivery of election material has dropped in the final days of voting.
In response to the judge's order, the USPS issued the following statement to E.W. Scripps:
Beginning in January 2020, the U.S. Postal Service began “all clear” sweeps to ensure Political Mail and Election Mail, which includes voter registration materials, requests for absentee ballots, and ballots themselves, were not left behind. These efforts have intensified as we’ve moved closer to Election Day.
The U.S Postal Inspection Service is in our facilities throughout the country ensuring the physical security of Election Mail in the workplace. Since Oct. 29, the Inspection Service has been conducting daily reviews at all 220 facilities that process ballots. Inspectors walk the facility and observe the conditions of mail. They also review Election and Political Mail logs for accuracy and completeness, review in and around staging areas for Election and Political Mail, scan for delayed mail, ensure Election Mail is processed expeditiously, and ensure no ballots are held for postage due.
Over the past 14 months, total mail volume surpassed 4.5 billion mailpieces for Political Mail and Election Mail tracked, representing an increase of 114 percent compared to the 2016 election cycle.
Ballots will continue to be accepted and processed as they are presented to us and we will deliver them to their intended destination.
DeJoy, a longtime Republican donor and supporter of President Donald Trump, was appointed as postmaster general earlier this year. Throughout the 2020 election cycle, Trump has expressed skepticism in voting by mail, despite studies that show it does not lead to widespread fraud or give either party a voting advantage.