The United States Postal Service has warned that in Pennsylvania, some mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted this November.
In a July letter to Pennsylvania State Secretary Kathy Boockvar, USPS general counsel Thomas Marshall described the “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,” NBC News reports.
The USPS also described Pennsylvania’s current deadlines as “incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards,” per Axios. Voters in the swing state can request a mail-in ballot up to Oct. 27, and they have to be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, according to The Hill.
The United States Postal Service is warning that delays could prevent voters’ mail-in ballots from being counted this November in almost every state.
Reports emerged on Thursday that officials in Pennsylvania had been warned by the USPS that for voters who request their ballots close to the October deadline, there’s a risk that the ballots will end up being delivered too late for them to count. But this is evidently a concern throughout almost all of the country, as The Washington Post on Friday reported that the USPS has “sent detailed letters to 46 states and D.C. warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted.”
Among the states that were warned that their deadlines are “incongruous” with how quickly the Postal Service can actually deliver the ballots to election officials were reportedly Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida, three crucial swing states that could decide the election.
“The Postal Service is asking election officials and voters to realistically consider how the mail works,” a USPS spokesperson said.
Election officials are seeking clarification from the Postal Service about how recent cutbacks will affect what’s expected to be an avalanche of mail-in voting in the upcoming election. Changes in postal operations have already led to mail delays across the country, raising alarms about what will happen in November.
NPR has learned that a bipartisan group of secretaries of state, who are responsible for running elections, requested to meet this week with postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who was appointed to the job in May. But that meeting has yet to be scheduled.
“Unfortunately, [we] still haven’t had a direct conversation with the U.S. postmaster,” New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver told NPR Thursday. “Hopefully, we will soon.”
Toulouse Oliver is president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and one of those who requested the meeting.