Plaintiffs In USPS Suit Want Facilities Scoured For Ballots As PA Mail-In Deadline Looms

WILKES-BARRE, UNITED STATES - 2020/11/04: Luzerne County employees open mail-in ballots to be counted at the elections board in Wilkes-Barre.Pennsylvania mail-in ballots are being counted with about fifty thousand in total, Luzerne County hopes to finish tonight. Media is allowed to document the vote counting process in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WILKES-BARRE, UNITED STATES - 2020/11/04: Luzerne County employees open mail-in ballots to be counted at the elections board in Wilkes-Barre. Pennsylvania mail-in ballots are being counted with about fifty thousand i... WILKES-BARRE, UNITED STATES - 2020/11/04: Luzerne County employees open mail-in ballots to be counted at the elections board in Wilkes-Barre. Pennsylvania mail-in ballots are being counted with about fifty thousand in total, Luzerne County hopes to finish tonight. Media is allowed to document the vote counting process in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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November 5, 2020 1:57 p.m.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the United States Postal Service said Thursday that it is crucial that USPS take steps to “sweep” facilities and ensure that any outstanding ballots be delivered by Friday in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

In a hearing Thursday, plaintiffs dissected USPS processing data to show that hundreds or even potentially thousands of ballots were mailed on-time in the commonwealth but arrived or would arrive after Election Day. Additional ballots, they said, are still traveling through the postal system. What’s more, plaintiffs pointed out, not all counties use barcodes that distinguish mail-in ballots, meaning that even more ballots may be in the system than can be accounted for.

Pennsylvania’s ballot-counting procedure currently allows for votes to be tallied as long as they were mailed by Election Day and arrive at elections offices by Friday.

But Republicans have sued, so far unsuccessfully, to discard ballots that arrive at elections offices after Tuesday evening. The shadow of a conservative Supreme Court that may be inclined to agree with them looms over the ballot-counting process.

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Plaintiffs on Thursday urged U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to order USPS to step up its efforts to deliver and report on any outstanding ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

“We want to focus on getting as many ballots delivered by tomorrow as we can, assuming of course that they were postmarked by Election Day,” said Shankar Duraiswamy, an attorney for Vote Forward, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

The USPS ballot processing data is imperfect. For example, it may include ballots not destined for Pennsylvania elections offices, such as if someone temporarily in Pennsylvania mailed an absentee ballot to their home state.

But plaintiffs stressed that the ballots in question could ultimately affect a close election.

“We’re talking about potentially thousands of ballots put in the mail by voters Saturday or Sunday in Pennsylvania that were not delivered until after Election Day,” Duraiswamy said, adding: “I think it’s important to underscore the need for continued monitoring and continued attention to timely ballot delivery by the Postal Service.”

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