In a late-breaking, widely praised Election Day ruling, a federal judge ordered U.S. Postal Service inspectors in several states to conduct sweeps of processing facilities between 12:30 and 3:00 pm ET in an effort to "ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery."
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia set a 4:30 pm ET deadline for affected facilities to "file a status update certifying compliance" with the order.
The order follows a motion for further relief filed by the NAACP on Tuesday morning, which cited USPS data showing "continued low processing scores for ballots delivered yesterday in several districts in which ballots must be returned to election officials today."
NBC News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett pointed out on social media that "just 62% of Central Pennsylvania's ballots and 64% of Atlanta's ballots moved on-time on Saturday."
As a result of Sullivan's order, "Postal workers are working overtime to make sure every ballot is counted," ACLU tweeted:
Postal workers are working overtime to make sure every ballot is counted. https://t.co/ntcrmmplA7
— ACLU (@ACLU) November 3, 2020
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According to CNN, the mandated sweeps are required in the following USPS districts:
- Central Pennsylvania
- Northern New England (New Hampshire and Maine)
- Greater South Carolina
- South Florida
- Lakeland (Wisconsin)
As CNN noted, this means that sweeps are being conducted in seven battleground states that do not allow ballots to arrive after November 3: Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Florida, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Maine.
Courthouse News reporter Megan Mineiro in a Twitter thread shared the text of Sullivan's order.
Alrighty and here's Judge Sullivan's order to sweep USPS facilities from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. to ensure "no ballots have been held up" and any still on site are sent to election officials immediately. pic.twitter.com/7gHUsWSIo6— Megan Mineiro (@MMineiro_CNS) November 3, 2020
NBC News legal analyst Glenn Kirschner thanked Sullivan for mandating the expedited delivery of mail-in ballots ahead of quickly approaching deadlines, stressing that it was the sabotage of USPS by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican mega-donor to President Donald Trump, that made this necessary.
"If one solitary ballot goes undelivered," Kirschner said, "DeJoy should be ordered to show cause as to why he should not be held in contempt."