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Scrutiny Of The U.S. Postal Service Continues As States Report Missing Ballots

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Scrutiny of the Postal Service's handling of the election intensified today. A federal judge ordered the USPS to continue sweeping its facilities for any left-behind ballots in states where they can still be counted. There have been reports of ballots left behind or delivered late in some states. NPR's Brian Naylor has the story.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Based on a court filing earlier this week, it appeared that the Postal Service had lost track of some 300,000 mail-in ballots. The ballots had been scanned into the system, but there was no record that they had been scanned out. But the Postal Service said in a statement that there was a simple explanation, that under the extraordinary measures it was taking to get election mail delivered on time, postal workers removed the ballots from the system before they received a final scan and delivered them directly to election boards. Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, says that's exactly what happened.

MARK DIMONDSTEIN: They're not missing. They're not disappeared. We have every reason to believe they've made it to their final destination and were counted. They're not accounted for in the same way that regular mail would have been.

NAYLOR: The Postal Service has been under extreme scrutiny during this election season. Because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, some 65 million Americans voted by mail nationwide. But there were deep suspicions after Louis DeJoy, a big-dollar donor to Republicans, including President Trump, was named Postmaster General. DeJoy, who ran a logistics company, immediately introduced cost-cutting measures that critics said slowed the mail. The Postal Service suspended those changes, spurred by a series of lawsuits from state officials and advocacy groups. Dimondstein says despite the controversies, he believes the Postal Service did a good job under a lot of pressure.

DIMONDSTEIN: Very proud of it. Obviously, all the votes should be counted, but this was a real success for the American people.

NAYLOR: Still, there were some glitches. In testimony today before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, it was revealed that as many as 68 ballots were not delivered in Atlanta in time to be counted. And some 1,400 ballots mailed over the weekend didn't arrive by Election Day in Pennsylvania. But officials there have until tomorrow to count them, and postal officials have been told to keep sweeping their facilities for ballots until then.

Brian Naylor, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.