Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan has ordered an imminent explanation from the U.S. Postal Service for their lack of compliance with an order that he issued on Tuesday demanding a sweep of postal facilities around the country for mail-in ballots that had potentially been left behind. Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots weren’t immediately accounted for on Tuesday — they’d been scanned into the system, but they hadn’t been scanned out upon arriving at their intended destinations. The Postal Service claims that complying with Sullivan’s orders for immediate sweeps of facilities would have disrupted routine operations — but he wants details, apparently.
In some states, mail-in ballots that arrive back at election authorities’ headquarters after Election Day won’t count, no matter whether or not the delay was the voter’s fault. The comparatively small margins that could be represented by lost or delayed mail-in ballots could swing elections. As the U.S. experienced firsthand, Trump won by thin margins in critical swing states across the Rust Belt in 2016. Courthouse News reporter Megan Minero shared the following late Tuesday update in the high-profile ballot handling case:
‘USPS *failed* to carry out the sweeps of processing facilities to make sure no ballots were left behind, ordered by Sullivan today. The judge in an order tonight said the government should be “prepared to discuss the apparent lack of compliance” in tomorrow’s hearing.’
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Louis DeJoy *already* ordered to show cause for defying Judge Emmet Sullivan's directive to deliver all ballots for processing. Hearing is NOON TOMORROW. https://t.co/1rXreyngiS
— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) November 4, 2020
Amidst policy and operations changes instituted by the Trump-allied Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, mail service has recently slowed down at significant rates across the country. Simultaneously, reliance on mail-in voting has skyrocketed due in large part to the Coronavirus pandemic, which has made in-person voting potentially dangerous for medically vulnerable people like elderly people and otherwise potentially immuno-compromised populations. There’s also been a nationwide surge in overall turnout, propelled by the sharp national polarization underlining this year’s contentious presidential race.
Trump has peddled conspiracy theories about mail-in voting, which he falsely claims is full of opportunities for fraud. In reality, the practice is safe and secure. Trump has also peddled conspiracy theories about ballots that are counted after Election Day, and he’s threatened to go after these ballots in post-election court battles — despite the fact that making sure that all valid votes are counted should not be a remotely controversial position!
The quiet part, screamed: Trump tells reporters that "we're going to go in the night of, as soon as that election is over [in PA], we're going in with our lawyers … if people wanted to get their ballots in, they should have gotten their ballots in long before that." pic.twitter.com/sAMA0Pw6Tg
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 1, 2020