By David Shepardson and Tom Hals, Reuters
A U.S. judge on Wednesday said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy must answer questions about why the U.S. Postal Service failed to complete a court-ordered sweep for undelivered ballots in about a dozen states before a Tuesday afternoon deadline.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said at a hearing Wednesday that DeJoy “is either going to have to be deposed or appear before me and testify under oath about why some measures were not taken.”
The Postal Service, or USPS, disclosed on Wednesday it had completed the sweeps late on Tuesday and turned up just 13 ballots in Pennsylvania.
Sullivan had ordered the sweeps in response to lawsuits by groups including Vote Forward, the NAACP, and Latino community advocates.
The USPS told Sullivan it could not meet his 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) Tuesday deadline for completing the checks, saying it was not logistically possible.
“The court has been very clear that it expects total compliance,” Sullivan said on Wednesday. “I was just as shocked to hear that nothing else was done after the injunction was issued.”
Postal Service data showed that as of Sunday about 300,000 ballots that were received for mail processing did not receive scans confirming their delivery to election authorities.
In a court filing Wednesday, the Postal Service said “the lack of a destination or finalization scan does not mean that the ballots were not delivered.”
Sullivan was to hear testimony on the issue from another postal official at 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT) Wednesday on the 300,000 ballot scan issue.
Sullivan’s order covered processing centers in central Pennsylvania, northern New England, greater South Carolina, south Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin and parts of Illinois, Arizona, Alabama and Wyoming, as well as the cities of Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit.
A senior postal inspection official said Wednesday officials in Pennsylvania had found 10 ballots in Lancaster and three delayed ballots in Johnstown during the sweeps and they were referred to management for delivery.