GREENSBORO — The on-time processing rate of ballots at Greensboro’s USPS facility was only 72.92% on Election Day, according to new U.S. Postal Service data filed in federal court.
The new data comes after USPS claimed on Tuesday that it could not meet a federal judge's order to sweep processing centers for undelivered mail-in ballots, arguing that doing so would disrupt its Election Day operations.
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington, D.C., gave the agency until Tuesday afternoon to search 27 facilities in several battleground areas for outstanding ballots and send out those votes immediately.
In its response to the judge's order, USPS said it had already conducted rounds of morning checks at all its processing hubs. Further, the agency said it has been performing daily reviews of all 220 facilities handling election mail and planned another sweep hours before polling places closed Tuesday, according to an Associated Press article.
Several cities in key battleground states earned a low ballot processing score. Cities in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan were among those with scores below 80%.
When asked Wednesday afternoon what USPS is doing to ensure the ballots in Greensboro are being processed, Charlotte-based USPS spokesman Phillip Bogenberger responded by reiterating the daily reviews the agency’s Inspection Service is performing at their facilities, but did not speak directly to the issue in Greensboro.
Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the N.C. State Board of Elections, responded to a question about the reported backlog during a Wednesday afternoon conference call to address the process counties will be undertaking in the coming days of counting absentee votes and researching provisional ballots.
Brinson Bell said she did not know of a backlog and had not been briefed on the matter.
“We’ll have to get back to you to determine if there’s anything affecting our absentee ballots in the mail process,” she said.
AP reported that U.S. Postal Service inspectors found just 13 ballots — all in Pennsylvania — during the Election Day sweep of mail processing centers.
The ballots were found in two separate mail processing facilities and were expedited for delivery to local election offices, according to court records filed Wednesday.
Sullivan expressed frustration that the agency did not meet his deadline, saying “someone might have a price to pay for that" and then ordered an additional sweep of mail processing facilities in Texas to be completed Wednesday afternoon.
Sullivan's order for the postal sweeps came after weeks of bruising court decisions for an agency that has become heavily politicized under its new leader, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. DeJoy, a Greensboro businessman and major GOP donor, made a series of controversial policy changes in the summer that delayed mail nationwide, fueling worry about the service’s ability to handle the unprecedented crush of mail-in ballots. At the same time, President Donald Trump baselessly attacked mail-in voting as fraudulent through his campaign.
Sullivan's orders also came after postal data showed around 300,000 ballots in several states had not received scans confirming they were delivered, AP reported. The agency strongly disputed the accuracy of the figure, saying it has expedited ballots by circumventing certain processing steps entirely, leaving them without the final delivery scan.
“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,” Postal Service spokesman Dave Partenheimer said.
The number of unscanned ballots gained significant traction on social media.
In an interview, Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said “we know of no big hold-up of ballots.”
“The rank-and-file postal workers, as we have during the pandemic, rose to the occasion to serve the people of this country,” he said.
Associated Press contributed.
Contact Jamie Biggs at 336-373-4476 and follow @JamieBiggsNR on Twitter.