USPS refused to comply with a judge's order on mail-in ballots — and he's demanding answers
Federal Judge Emmett Sullivan has ordered representatives for the United States Postal Service to appear before him on Wednesday after lawyers filed a brief admitting it was not complying with his orders to conduct sweeps for mail-in ballots.
Sullivan had ordered the Postal Service to conduct sweeps of facilities for mail-in ballots heading to 15 states following the revelation that USPS could not trace 300,000 ballots. Many states require ballots to be turned in by Election Day, Tuesday, for them to be counted at all. So Sullivan ordered USPS to conduct sweeps by 3:30 pm to ensure all undelivered ballots would make it to election officials on time.
In a filing for the court, the Justice Department lawyer wrote on behalf of USPS: "Defendants were unable to accelerate the daily review process to run from 12:30pm to 3:00pm without significantly disrupting pre-existing activities on the day of the Election, something which Defendants did not understand the Court to invite or require."
But it seems Sullivan is not satisfied with this explanation, unsurprisingly.
"Defendants shall be prepared to discuss the apparent lack of compliance with the Court's order at the status conference scheduled for 12:00 PM," Sullivan wrote in a minute order on the court docket.
"This is super frustrating," said Allison Zieve, an attorney the NAACP, which brought the case to the judge, according to the Washington Post. "If they get all the sweeps done today in time, it doesn't matter if they flouted the judge's order. 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."
While there was reasonable concern that USPS was not following the court's orders and that many ballots may not arrive on time, Motherboard reporter Aaron Gordon, who focuses on the Postal Service, said there was little sign of nefarious activity.
"Broadly speaking, when the USPS was really struggling this summer, I was getting dozens of tips/day from USPS workers. I haven't received one over the last few weeks about ballots," he said on Twitter. "And when I talk to my sources they have unanimously said election mail is going well."
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