The U.S. Postal Service sent letters to 46 states and Washington, D.C., warning that mail-in ballots may not be counted on time because their requests are "incongruous" with delivery standards. Just three states were told that their request deadlines were "compatible" and should "allow" enough time for voters to receive their ballots, complete and mail them by their Election Day deadlines. The letters were sent as President Donald Trump continues his attacks on mail-in voting and his handpicked postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, has made several controversial decisions critics say have caused mailing delays.
USPS general counsel and executive vice president Thomas Marshall sent the letters to the secretaries of state and were dated the end of July, reports CBS News. The letters do vary from state to state, but those told there are concerns about the mail-in ballot deadlines are mostly similar. Marshall told the states their deadlines are "incongruous" with the Postal Service's current standards, and it would create a "mismatch" that risks "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."
In a statement, the USPS said some states "reported Election Mail volumes that are 10 times higher than any previous year" and the agency is "well prepared" to deliver the election mail. "However, the increases in volume and the effect of when volumes were mailed in the primary elections presented a need to ensure the Postal Service's recommendations were reemphasized to elections officials," the statement read.
According to The Washington Post, D.C., Vermont, Washington, Utah, Colorado, California, and Hawaii all received letters stating that a "narrow" group of voters could have their ballots delayed. However, 40 other states, including the battlegrounds Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, received the more serious warnings that voters who mail ballots close to deadlines may be disenfranchised. Some states have already made adjustments, while others will not be able to with only weeks to go before absentee ballots are mailed out. Pennsylvania officials also included its letter in a filing to the state's Supreme Court, asking ballots delivered three days after Election Day to still be counted.
Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and Utah have all long conducted universal vote by mail elections and did not receive serious warnings. Nevada also did not receive a serious warning, even after it announced plans for a vote-by-mail election for its statewide primary. Trump blasted the state as recently as Wednesday, tweeting, "Nevada has ZERO infrastructure for Mail-In Voting. It will be a corrupt disaster if not ended by the Courts. It will take months, or years, to figure out." But according to the USPS letter to Nevada, "It appears that your voters should have sufficient time to receive, complete, and return their ballots by the state’s deadlines."
The USPS has become politicized as Trump has continued to claim that widespread mail-in ballots will create voter fraud without evidence. During a Fox Business interview on Thursday, Trump said he did not support emergency funding for the agency because Democrats have pushed for more mail-in voting nationwide. "They want $25 billion for the post office," Trump said on Fox Business. "They need that money so it can work and they can take these millions and millions of ballots. [...] But if they don't get those two items, then they can't have mail-in ballots." He later added, "If we don't make a deal, that means they won’t get the money and they won’t have universal mail-in voting."