State Watch

USPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) warned Pennsylvania officials in July that the state's election deadlines were too tight for the service's delivery standards and could result in mail-in ballots being delayed for several days.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a letter dated July 29 warned state officials that "certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service's delivery standards" and could result in "a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them."

Current state law in Pennsylvania requires that mail-in ballots arrive by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. 

In a motion filed to the state's Supreme Court on Thursday, Pennsylvania election officials asked for approval to continue counting mail-in ballots received up to three days after election day due to concerns about delays with the Postal Service, the Inquirer reported.

Pennsylvania election officials did not immediately return a request for confirmation from The Hill.

Should the court agree, the results of one of the most hotly contested states in the 2020 election could be unclear for several days after the election is held, leading potentially to uncertainty as to the victor of the presidential election.

President Trump won Pennsylvania by a narrow margin over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

News of the USPS's warning to Pennsylvania's election officials come as lawmakers on Capitol Hill have raised concerns about delays in mail delivery amid Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's reorganization efforts at the Postal Service.

Many Democrats and critics of DeJoy's efforts argue the changes endanger the ability for states to carry out mail-in voting systems that have been expanded in several states due to concerns about in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has opposed efforts to expand mail-in voting, claiming repeatedly that the practice will cause voter fraud. However, there is little evidence to suggest that mail-in voting leads to voter fraud.

The president also suggested on Thursday that he was unwilling to agree to a deal with Democrats to fund the Postal Service in the next coronavirus relief legislation because it would help mail-in voting in November. 

"They want $25 billion for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots," Trump said Thursday during a Fox Business interview.

"Now in the meantime, they aren't getting there. By the way, those are just two items. But if they don't get those two items that means you can't have universal mail-in voting, because they're not equipped to have it."

"Now, if we don't make a deal that means they don't get the money. That means they can't have universal mail-in voting," the president continued. "They just can't have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing."

Trump later on Thursday told reporters at a press conference that he would be willing to sign coronavirus legislation that includes funding for the Postal Service but rejected the idea that the agency would reverse policies that worry Democrats. 

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