A federal judge on Wednesday criticized the US Postal Service for failing to complyTo provide many facilities for missing mail-in ballots on election day.
The order was to trigger sweeps of facilities in six major battlegrounds in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Texas, Arizona and Florida. Some of the 12 districts included in the order have laws against accepting ballots after midnight on election night.
U.S. District Judge Emmett G. issuing the order. Sullivan expressed disappointment with the Postal Service and lawyers for the government and said he would consider submitting to Postmaster General Louis Dejoy why the measures were not taken.
“Now you can tell your customers this without any uncertain words,” Sullivan said at Wednesday’s hearing. “I’m not pleased about this 11-hour development last night. You can tell your customers that someone might have a price to pay for that.”
The sweeps were ordered to begin at 12 pm ET and complete by 3 pm ET. The attorney for the Department of Justice, who is representing the Postal Service, said processing was scheduled to take place from 4 to 8 a.m. on the first election day – before most of the voting was closed. The agency said it discovered 13 delayed ballots at two different facilities in Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit, brought by the NAACP, highlighted data from the Postal Service concerning more than 300,000 mail-in ballots that had been received, but were unable to trace to their destination. The agency said the data was unreliable, as the pre-existing election process meant that ballots would be prevented from being processed in their way.
Joseph Borson, a Justice Department lawyer, apologized to the court for not having realistic enough expectations on his client’s side, adding that the term “sweep” had several references within the Postal Service, for which there was usually more manpower is needed.
Sullivan submitted the claim on Wednesday. Sullivan said, “Yesterday it was the government’s job to tell him that I can make the appropriate adjustments in the order.” “Now it looks like you didn’t know the time when they would be.”
The presidential race in Pennsylvania and Texas is still close to call. Sullivan filed a new order Wednesday instructing the Postal Service to expedite efforts to search for postal ballots left in Texas facilities. However, an email announcement regarding the order’s 5pm deadline was sent by 3:15 pm, giving authorities two hours to complete the sweep.
The court is scheduled to hear testimony from Kevin Bray, who currently serves as executive leadership for mail processing in the 2020 elections. Bray is expected to answer questions about the sweep, as well as about 300,000 ballots that may still be in the system.
“It’s the most important thing I’m doing right now,” Sullivan said Wednesday. “Everyone, take a deep breath, alright. We’re going to get through this.”