The Postal Service said Wednesday morning that it had completed Election Day sweeps of 12 districts that were ordered by a federal judge who was concerned that some ballots might have slipped through the cracks.
“We did complete the sweeps last night,” Dave Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said an email. He said the agency would provide more detail to the judge later today.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District of Columbia has scheduled a noon hearing to discuss the status of the search for ballots in districts where performance of on-time mail delivery had been lagging.
Judge Sullivan had ordered an immediate sweep of certain districts Tuesday afternoon after the Postal Service said in court that some 300,000 ballots it had received had not been scanned for delivery. He said he was particularly concerned about ballot delivery in postal districts where there has been slow processing of ballots for days, including Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Detroit.
The dramatic Election Day order came as record numbers of Americans voted by mail this year, with many voters were anxious to avoid crowds at the polls during the pandemic — and at the end of a campaign season marked by fears that Postal Service changes and cutbacks under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee, had caused extensive mail delays that could imperil ballots.
Roughly 300,000 ballots that the Postal Service says it processed showed no scan confirming their delivery to ballot-counting sites, according to data filed recently in federal court in Washington, D.C., leaving voter-rights advocates concerned.
Postal officials said that just because a ballot never received a final scan before going out for delivery, it did not mean, necessarily, that it wasn’t delivered. A machine scanning ballots for final processing can sometimes miss ballots that are stuck together or whose bar codes are smudged. And hand-sorted ballots typically do not receive a final scan before delivery.
The Postal Service has also authorized expedited delivery of ballots that forego the normal process, but voting-rights advocates worried that without a scan verifying that the ballots went out for delivery, some could be sitting uncounted at various postal facilities around the country.
Mr. Partenheimer said the agency had been conducting daily searches at all of its facilities for ballots that might fall through the cracks.
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