The United States Postal Service issued a warning to 46 states and Washington, D.C. that delays in mail delivery could prevent some mail-in ballots from being received in time to be counted. The warnings were sent in July by Thomas J. Marshall, general counsel and executive vice president of the Postal Service, and obtained through an open records request by the Washington Post.
Marshall warned the states, which include Michigan, California, and Florida, that their deadlines for requesting and returning ballots were "incongruous" with current mail delivery standards and that ballots sent at the last minute may not be received in time to get counted.
"Certain deadlines concerning mail-in ballots, particularly with respect to new residents who register to vote shortly before Election Day, appear to be incongruous with the Postal Service's delivery standards," Marshall wrote to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. "This mismatch creates a significant risk that some ballots will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them."
The Postal Service said that it is capable of handling the increased volume of mail related to the election, which some states estimate could be ten times more than usual.
"During every election cycle, the Postal Service conducts regular outreach with state and local election officials regarding our mailing requirements, delivery standards and best practices for enabling voting by mail," a USPS spokesperson said in a statement. "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."
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