The U.S. Postal Service has recommended that absentee voters mail in their ballots by Tuesday at the very latest to ensure they arrive by Election Day and are eligible to be counted.
But advocates are imploring Americans who have not yet sent in their ballots to steer clear of the mail if possible and drop them off in person to avoid getting caught up in the ongoing delays caused by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy—a recommendation made even more urgent by the Supreme Court's refusal late Monday to allow an extension of Wisconsin's absentee ballot deadline.
"Very important: today is deadline USPS recommends for sending back your mail ballot to make sure it's counted. Better yet, drop it off if you can."
—Ari Berman, Mother Jones
The high court is also set to rule on deadline extensions in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, with the conservative majority given a potentially decisive boost by the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett Monday night.
While ballot arrival deadlines vary by state, the majority of states require that absentee ballots be received by election officials no later than November 3. Louisiana and Vermont require that ballots arrive by November 2.
Voters who have no option but to mail their ballots should do so as soon as possible, advocates said. For those who need help finding a place to submit their ballots in person, Vote.org has a dropbox locator tool.
"Very important: today is the deadline USPS recommends for sending back your mail ballot to make sure it's counted. Better yet, drop it off if you can," tweeted Mother Jones journalist Ari Berman. "Given persistent USPS delays (it takes an average of 10 days for a letter to be delivered in Wisconsin), I would urge voters to drop off their mail ballots or vote in person rather than risk mail ballot not being counted because USPS didn't deliver by Election Day."
Suzanne Almeida, interim executive director of the advocacy group Common Cause Pennsylvania, echoed Berman's advice. "Don't put it in the mail. Not at this point," Almeida told Bloomberg. "We're at that point where if you can drop it off in person, drop it off in person."
Drop it off. Drop it off. Drop it off.
Remember to sign your ballot. Get a witness signature if required. Place in proper envelopes. https://t.co/OaePOl140B
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TODAY is final day USPS recommends sending back your ballot to ensure it gets counted. If you can (especially w/ mail delays), please drop off your ballot. Find a dropbox at https://t.co/bdJw7gaWhe, or vote safely in person if that’s an option. Voting ends in just 7 days – #VOTE!
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) October 27, 2020
A Wall Street Journal analysis of mail delivery times released Monday found that "of the 29 states that require mail-in ballots to arrive on or before Election Day, 28 have since late July seen periods of average delivery times exceeding six days," including crucial battle ground states like Florida, Arizona, and Wisconsin.
During the 2020 primaries, which saw an upsurge in mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic, more than 50,000 absentee ballots were rejected simply because they arrived late. According to the U.S. Elections Project, nearly 40 million Americans have already submitted mail-in ballots for the general election.
Postal workers have done their best to keep up delivery standards—sometimes defying orders from leadership in the process—but delays caused by DeJoy's sweeping sabotage of the USPS have continued in the run-up to next week's election.
"First-class mail service is now nearly as bad as it was during the worst period this summer. Eight days before the election, this is quite troubling," Paul Steidler, a senior fellow at the Lexington Institute policy group, wrote in in a blog post Monday. "Using USPS' most recent numbers, if ten million ballots are mailed in by voters two days before their states' respective deadlines, 1.4 million will be late."