Royal Oak Tribune

After judge’s order, USPS sweep finds 13 ballots

- By Anthony Izaguirre

U.S. Postal Service inspectors found just 13 ballots — all in Pennsylvan­ia — during an Election Day sweep of mail processing centers ordered by a federal judge.

The ballots were found in two separate mail processing facilities and were expedited for delivery to local election offices, according to court records filed Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington, D.C., had given the Postal Service until Tuesday afternoon to search 27 facilities in several battlegrou­nd areas for outstandin­g ballots and immediatel­y deliver any ballots discovered to election offices.

The agency said it could not complete the judge’s order under his timeframe but noted that it had already conducted morning checks at processing hubs and planned another sweep of 220 facilities handling election mail before polling places closed on Tuesday.

Justice Department attorneys representi­ng the Postal Service said they could not meet the judge’s order without disrupting the agency’s own Election Day operations.

“Defendants therefore conducted inspection­s by postal inspectors and sweeps at the relevant plants yesterday, pursuant to this court’s order, but it was not possible for the Postal Inspectors to conduct sweeps of all relevant facilities by this court’s 3 p.m. deadline,” they wrote.

Sullivan expressed frustratio­n that the agency did not meet his deadline, saying “someone might have a price to pay for that” and then ordered an additional sweep of mail processing facilities in Texas to be completed Wednesday afternoon.

Sullivan’s orders came after postal data showed around 300,000 ballots in several states had not received scans confirming they were delivered. The agency strongly disputed the accuracy of the figure, saying it has expedited ballots by circumvent­ing certain processing steps entirely, leaving them without the final delivery scan.

“When this occurs, by design, these ballots bypass certain processing operations and do not receive a final scan. Instead, they are expedited directly to the boards of elections,” Postal Service spokesman Dave Partenheim­er said.

The number gained significan­t traction on social media at a time when the agency has become heavily politicize­d under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor.

DeJoy implemente­d a series of policy changes that delayed mail nationwide this summer and fueled worry about the agency’s ability to handle the surge of mail-in ballots during the pandemic. At the same time, President Donald Trump baselessly attacked mail-in voting as fraudulent through his campaign.

In an interview, Mark Dimondstei­n, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said “we know of no big hold-up of ballots.”

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