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We May Be Able To Breathe A Bit Easier Over Those Missing 300,000 Mail-In Ballots

It looks like the news that the U.S. Postal Service defied a judge’s order to sweep 12 mail processing facilities serving 15 states, in search of 300,000+ mail-in ballots, is not the FU it looks like. Even better, there are probably not that many ballots sitting around the facilities.
We May Be Able To Breathe A Bit Easier Over Those Missing 300,000 Mail-In Ballots
USPS Image from: CBS News

The Washington Post has quite the alarming headline: “USPS disregards court order to conduct sweeps in 12 postal districts after more than 300,000 ballots can’t be traced.”

But when I checked the Twitter feed of one of the lawyers quoted in the article, NAACP attorney Allison Zieve, I saw this:

Following that lead, I found Aaron Gordon’s VICE article, “Why the Post Office’s Last-Minute Ballot Crisis Isn’t as Dire as It Seems.”

Gordon's tweets were reassuring about the defiance of the federal judge’s order:

Gordon’s article explains why there are probably nowhere near 300,000 missing ballots:

[T]he stats might look worse than they actually are … because in some cases postal workers have, for example, been manually postmarking the ballots and then passing them off for local same-or-next-day delivery, resulting in the ballots never being scanned into the system in the first place. Other measures, like sending ballots to the sorting facility but then removing them from the mail stream after they've been scanned and postmarked, means they are manually bypassing the rest of the process for expedited delivery and are thus scanned in and never scanned out.

The suggestion that there are thousands of ballots sitting in sorting facilities around the country doesn't pass the smell test. For example, a postal worker in Florida raised alarm when they found 62 ballots in a sorting facility (the ballots have since been delivered). The idea that 22,166 ballots have gone unnoticed in Arizona sorting facilities or 30,146 in Salt Lake City area facilities, as the daily filings say, is hard to believe.

Gordon goes on to say that every facility is swept for ballots at least once a day.

[The] independent observers were already scheduled to be on hand at the facilities from 4 to 8 p.m. to ensure no ballots were left behind, and Judge Sullivan decided that was good enough (before adding the USPS should be “prepared to discuss the apparent lack of compliance with the Court's order” at their noon conference call tomorrow.)

So, no, I don’t trust the Trump cronies heading either the U.S. Postal Service or the Department of Justice one bit. But if an attorney for the NAACP thinks this is a legit explanation, then I’m ready to let out at least a partial sigh of relief. But as Zieve told The Washington Post "They say here they will get the sweeps done between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., but 8 p.m. is too late, and in some states 5 p.m. is too late.”

This is part of our continuing coverage of the 2020 elections.

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