Federal Judge Orders USPS Facilities to be Swept for Undelivered Ballots in Key Battleground States

Illustration for article titled Federal Judge Orders USPS Facilities to be Swept for Undelivered Ballots in Key Battleground States
Photo: GEORGE FREY (Getty Images)

The late stages of the election have been a dark, dark comedy of Republican officials trying to steal the election and the—admittedly occasional—federal court going “Um, the fuck are you doing?” In the latest, and hopefully final act of this play, a federal court ordered the United States Postal Service to sweep its facilities for undelivered ballots.


According to the Hill, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the USPS to prioritize delivery of ballots in states that have been slow to process mail-in ballots. This includes states such as Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Those are all highly contested battleground states, with each being crucial to both candidates’ path towards becoming president.

Outside of Pennsylvania and Texas, all the states listed in the order don’t accept ballots once polls close. So, even if ballots are postmarked before Election Day, they won’t be counted if they’re delivered late. Sullivan ordered the sweep to “ensure that no ballots have been held up.”

In Pennsylvania, the Nov. 6 due date for mail-in ballots is up in the air, after three Supreme Court judges alluded in a recent ruling that they would be open to accepting an appeal that would invalidate ballots received after Election Day. In Texas, ballots postmarked by Election Day will be counted if they are received by 5 p.m. the following day.

Sullivan has ruled on election mail before, having previously ordered the USPS to restore high-speed mail sorting machines in facilities that couldn’t efficiently process First Class mail as a result of the ongoing pandemic. His latest order comes as USPS has stated that 20 percent of all mail delivered over the last week has been late.

As the pandemic has persisted throughout the year, mail-in voting has been positioned as a safer alternative to going to the polls. As a result, there has been more mail-related chicanery in these last few months, than at any other point I can remember across my 28 years.


From postal workers throwing away bags of mail, the California GOP setting up its own ballot boxes, ballot drop boxes being set on fire and the countless legal battles to invalidate thousands of early ballots, it’s been...a lot.

I, for one, am very much looking forward to a point in time where we don’t have to talk about mail this damn much.

The stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, wheelin' and dealin' nerd of The Root.



I’ve seen several articles over the past week about this judge issuing orders to DeJoy and the Postal Service in general with regards to handling the mail and specifically ballots, which are all great, except depressing they’re needed. But I haven’t heard any follow up. Were the orders followed? What were the results?