U.S. Postal Service warns states that mail-in ballots may not be counted in time

CBS News –  The U.S. Postal Service is sending letters to states warning that their mail-in ballots may not be counted in time because their provisions for voting by mail “are incongruous” with post office delivery standards. The U.S. Postal Service confirmed late Friday that letters that indicated concerns about on-time ballots had been sent to 41 states.

Seven states were informed that their ballot request deadlines are “compatible” with delivery standards and “should allow sufficient times for voters to receive, complete, and return such ballots by the state’s Election Day postmarking deadline.”

Vermont and Washington D.C. were sent letters that they have “sufficient time” for voters to receive ballots, but the postal service said it “cannot fully assess” if their planned use of mail aligns with the delivery standards.

The Postal Service faces a financial crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said a week ago that the agency’s financial situation is “dire,” “stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, a broken business model and a management strategy that has not adequately addressed these issues.”

DeJoy warned that congressional intervention is needed, and a bipartisan group of senators has been pressing for $25 billion in additional Postal Service funding to keep it afloat. While President Trump had indicated he would not support a financial bailout for the Postal Service, he said Friday he would support it “if they (Democrats) gave us what we want,” that is, a payroll tax cut and more loans for small businesses.

The letters were sent to the secretaries of state from Postal Service general counsel and executive vice president Thomas Marshall and are dated at the end of July.

While the letters vary slightly from state to state, they warn that states whose ballot request and submission deadlines are “incongruous” with the Postal Service’s delivery standards is resulting in a “mismatch” that “creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them.”

The Postal Service said in a statement, “Some states have reported Election Mail volumes that are 10 times higher than any previous year. The Postal Service is well prepared and has ample capacity to deliver America’s election mail. However, the increases in volume and the effect of when volumes were mailed in the primary elections presented a need to ensure the Postal Service’s recommendations were reemphasized to elections officials.”

Meanwhile, the Postal Service disclosed earlier this week that it lost $2.2 billion between April and June. Officials are warning that the agency could face $20 billion in losses over two years. It also reported a $4.5 billion loss for the first quarter, before the full economic effects of the pandemic were evident.

On Friday, former President Obama told his campaign manager David Plouffe on Plouffe’s podcast that Mr. Trump is trying to “actively kneecap the Postal Service” ahead of the election.

Mr. Trump has frequently repeated the false claim that mail-in voting leads to voter fraud, but he requested a mail ballot in Florida.

“Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” Mr. Trump tweeted on August 4. “Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!”

The Trump campaign and Republican Party are suing Nevada after officials joined several states that plan to automatically send voters mail ballots. Two other states, California and Vermont, moved to adopt a similar policy. Five other states had already adopted vote-by-mail measures even before the coronavirus pandemic raised safety concerns about voting in person.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for an investigation into changes at the postal service under DeJoy, who was appointed by Mr. Trump. A spokesperson for the inspector general confirmed on Friday that they are “conducting a body of work to address concerns raised. We cannot comment on details of ongoing work” of DeJoy’s tenure.

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6 Comments

  • nerdalert

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this disaster is happening right now. The USPS has become increasingly archaic as emails and phones have taken over. They have been in a bad position for a long time, and are just not prepared to deal with the amount of absentee ballot that will be filed this year. Without government assistance, the election will be a fiasco. I think it’s in Trump’s best interest to keep the postal system crippled. The polling isn’t looking great for him, and his response over the last few months has made many centrists decide to vote for Biden.

    • 11:03 am - August 16, 2020

  • AXVADTA

    As the time to vote is approaching soon, in upcoming months the postal mail services will be flooded with ballots on top of their regular deliveries. In all honesty, this years election will be one for the books, since it seems like it will turn out to be a debacle. In this case, the fact that it is possible that many ballots won’t be arriving in time to be accounted for is all in Trumps interest. Many of those who have in the past voted for Trump have now turned their eye on him because of the way he has been running situations in the past months of the year.

    • 8:25 pm - August 16, 2020

  • eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    This whole thing is one big mess. The confusion and inability to reach a clear decision from both parties may make this election a total fiasco. Then again mailing in the ballots may also prove to be very difficult. I still think that it should be done because every vote does count and in the present conditions a mail-in ballot may be the safest option. It is also a little strange that Republicans are making such a big deal about the ballots. While it may not be the best way, it is probably the best option we have at the moment. Very interestingly Trump, as mentioned above, has requested a mail-in ballot for Florida even though he has often criticized mail-in voting for voter fraud. Does he not believe that will happen in Florida? Or does he just believe that the mail-in ballot will help him win a notorious swing state while in other states, such as Nevada, it will help Biden get more votes? It’s very unclear what will happen, but if the post office succeeds in getting funding and states can get their things in order for the mail-in ballot, then this plan should work.

    • 10:49 am - August 17, 2020

  • ThatDoGal

    From supporting evidence, it is clear that the US Postal Service was in financial trouble before the pandemic and that it was merely aggravated by the corona-virus. Now, with elections approaching the US Postal Service is trying to find sufficient federal funding, but President Trump has declined to fund them. Democrats have stated that Mr. Trump is deliberately trying to sabotage the democratic process. However, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows stated that he could “guarantee” that “the president of the United States is not going to interfere with anybody casting their vote in a legitimate way, whether it’s the post office or anything else.” It brings into question what President Trump is actually trying to do and who’s statement is accurate. I find that it is unclear, but I do believe that mail-in ballots are vulnerable to fraud and this should be taken into serious consideration. Perhaps a solution could be found with setting up a larger concentration of polling booths in attempt to practice safer social distancing. In all reality, people still wait in lines at grocery stores. I have waited to go into a grocery store in Santa Fe and everyone was standing six feet apart. Perhaps people could be required to provide their own writing utensils and sanitize after voting. As these are only a few ideas of many more, I believe that mail-in ballots are severely impaired and should not be used.

    • 3:08 pm - August 17, 2020

  • Pretzelday

    The United States postal service has been through a lot. First with the rise of technology they have had less buisness then with the influx of online ordering and mail due to corona virus they do not have enough assets they cannot be responsible for the mail- voting without funding and time to prepare. I do think that it is safest and best option for voting. Trump’s statements that mail-voting will cause voter fraud is just an excuse for him not to take responsibility. Mail voting has taken place in other states at a smaller level and there has been no voter fraud.

    • 4:46 pm - August 18, 2020

  • 112358

    The viability of mail in/absentee voting remains a question as the election draws closer. It is incredibly alarming to have the UPS concerned about getting ballots on-time to 41 states. Mail in voting was likely to have issues before, but Trump’s sabotage of the USPS is a blatant obstruction of democracy (https://apnews.com/14a2ceda724623604cc8d8e5ab9890ed). Trump is literally trying to obstruct majority rule, the fundamental idea behind democracy. I also think the USPS is an excellent question about the role of government. The USPS is famously unprofitable and leaks huge sums of money. However, it is written into the constitution under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7. I personally am in favor of keeping the USPS relatively strong. Particularly in disastrous times like now, the USPS can be an essential service to help people get the goods they need. The concerns about fraudulent voting are so minuscule and irrelevant compared to the issue of the USPS drowning under the mass of mail in votes. If 41 states do not have their votes fully counted, the election could truly be a coin toss.

    • 7:25 pm - August 18, 2020