Election Law

Judge orders postal sweeps to continue; about 150K ballots weren't delivered by Election Day

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A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered twice-per-day sweeps of postal facilities in states with extended ballot deadlines to ensure that ballots are delivered to election officials that same day.

U.S District Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia issued the order Thursday, report Reuters, Politico and Law360.

Sullivan is also requiring some postal facilities to coordinate with local election boards in North Carolina and Pennsylvania to deliver ballots by 5 p.m. Friday if they were postmarked by Election Day.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has extended the deadline to Friday to receive ballots postmarked by Election Day. A pending cert petition asks the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Pennsylvania’s extended deadline.

North Carolina’s statutory deadline is Friday, but it has been extended to Nov. 12, according to Law360. Nevada has a Nov. 10 deadline for receipt of ballots postmarked by Election Day.

Sullivan’s order follows the U.S. Postal Service’s disclosure Tuesday that it did not follow his time frame when he ordered sweeps for undelivered ballots in 12 postal districts. Sullivan had ordered Election Day sweeps between 12:30 and 3 p.m. in those districts, but the Postal Service later informed him that it was sticking with its daily review process that happens between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

In a hearing Wednesday, Sullivan said “someone may have a price to pay” for disobeying his order.

The Postal Service disclosed in a court filing Thursday that about 150,000 ballots at postal facilities were not delivered by Election Day, the Washington Post reports. More than 12,000 ballots were in five battleground states.

Two of the states—Arizona and Georgia—don’t count ballots if they aren’t received by Election Day, according to the Washington Post. The number of ballots that didn’t get delivered by the deadline was 864 in Arizona and 853 in Georgia.

The Postal Service reported that sweeps Thursday found more than 1,000 ballots in Philadelphia facilities and 300 in Pittsburgh, according to Politico.

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