U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has ordered the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to conduct sweeps twice a day in all the mail processing facilities for the 23 states that allow for ballots postmarked on or by Election Day to be counted in the following days.
That includes some battleground states that have not yet been called: Pennsylvania, which can still count ballots received until end of business Friday; Nevada, which will accept properly postmarked ballots until Nov. 10; and North Carolina, which will take ballots until Nov. 12. They will have to conduct the first sweep in the morning by 10 AM local time, and the second in mid- to late afternoon, leaving time for any ballots found to be delivered to elections offices. Sullivan also ordered daily reports of their results, the number of ballots found, and confirmation that they were delivered on time to meet the states’ deadlines.
The USPS and Department of Justice are having to report to Judge Sullivan daily. He ended today’s proceedings on an encouraging note, at least for the rank and file staff of the USPS, praising “all the dedicated men and women of the US Postal Service. […] Nothing stops the Postal system. I feel like giving the postman a big hug today,” he said. That’s a sharp departure from Wednesday’s process, when he was livid at USPS leadership for ignoring his Election Day order for ballot sweeps.
“Someone may have a price to pay for that,” and that someone might still be Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who Sullivan threatened to make testify about the decision to refuse the order and then not tell him they were refusing the order until after the fact. Had DeJoy or leadership told him that his order was too onerous to complete on top of their Election Day activities, Sullivan said, he’d have happily worked with them. Instead, they just disregarded his order. He told the Justice attorneys representing the USPS in court Wednesday that he doesn’t blame them. “It’s your clients. Each and every one of them, starting at the top of the food chain,” he said. “I don’t want you to keep falling on the sword.”
“The postmaster’s going to have to be deposed or appear before me,” Sullivan said, adding, “I’m not going to forget it.”