Thousands of ballots continued to stream into U.S. Postal Service facilities Monday, according to newly filed court documents, too late in many states to be counted, even if postmarked by Election Day.
According to the new data, compiled as part of a lawsuit to monitor mail voting, ballots arriving Monday included hundreds meant for closely fought contests in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona, where President-elect Joe Biden has held small but significant leads. Those ballots include: 121 in Atlanta, 293 in Philadelphia, 109 in Central Pennsylvania, 171 in Central Arizona and 83 in Detroit.
Though the number of ballots is too small to affect the outcome of the election in any of these states they could — along with hundreds of others that arrived in these states in the days since the election — affect the margins of victory for Biden.
Of these states, only Pennsylvania accepted ballots after Election Day, so long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3. But even Pennsylvania’s extension, ordered by the state Supreme Court, expired on Friday.
Although the Postal Service has faced intense scrutiny for significant mail delays in the run-up to the 2020 election — part of what Democrats and voting rights advocates worried was intentional undermining by President Donald Trump — ballots arriving at postal facilities this week may also reflect voters who simply put them in the mail too late. It’s unclear from the documents how many of the late-arriving ballots may have been postmarked by Election Day.
The Postal Service cautioned, in a disclaimer to the court, that the numbers may actually be an undercount, since not all mailed ballots are marked with codes that identify them.
A Postal Service spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
USPS has been providing daily updates to U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has demanded granular access to Postal Service data as part of a lawsuit intended to monitor Postal Service handling of mail-in ballots, which states have increasingly relied on amid the coronavirus pandemic. Sullivan has ordered USPS to conduct twice-daily sweeps of its facilities to locate and expedite ballots to election officials, and in recent days, he’s prioritized states with extended ballot deadlines, like Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
But the data also reveals thousands of votes that will almost certainly not be counted marked for states that require mail-in ballots to arrive by the time polls close on Election Day or within a few days thereafter.
Those include 184 in Richmond, 158 in various Florida districts and 627 in combined Colorado/Wyoming facilities.
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