On Wednesday reports that the US Postal Service had lost or failed to deliver hundreds of thousands of ballots began circulating online, fueling outrage in many Democratic corners of social media.
The idea began to spread after the Washington Post and the New York Times reported that roughly 300,000 ballots were missing delivery scans. Since then, those reports have been aggregated by other outlets and picked up by Democrats on social media.
Facts First: There’s no evidence that hundreds of thousands of ballots went undelivered. While there were roughly 300,000 ballots that did not have delivery scans, that doesn’t mean they weren’t delivered. According to the USPS, the lack of delivery scans were a result of ballots that were picked out of the mail stream to speed up their processing.
In testimony on Wednesday and Thursday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, USPS’s Kevin Bray, who is in charge of all mail processing during the election this year, said that the Postal Service knew that due to the extraordinary volume of ballots going through the mail, that a significant number were going to miss the scans in order to be delivered on time.
Mark Dimondstein, American Postal Workers Union president, agreed, telling CNN that a high number of missing delivery scans is likely indicative of the ballots getting sped through the system.
For example, one of the measures the USPS put in place to speed things up involved postal workers hand-picking ballots from the processing system. Since they were removed from the normal mail stream, they didn’t receive the scans.
“The assumption that there are unaccounted ballots within the Postal Service network is inaccurate,” the USPS said, in light of the reports. “These ballots were delivered in advance of the election deadlines. We employed extraordinary measures to deliver ballots directly to local boards of elections. When this occurs, by design, these ballots bypass certain processing operations and do not receive a final scan. Instead, they are expedited directly to the boards of elections.”
US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has ordered some sweeps of USPS facilities to check for any remaining ballots, not for large batches of missing ballots.