Federal judge orders USPS to sweep facilities to make sure no mail-in ballots are left behind

  • A federal judge issued a last-minute order Tuesday requiring the US Postal Service to sweep mail facilities and rush any undelivered absentee ballots. 
  • US District Judge Emmet Sullivan's order targeted specific areas, including some in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Georgia. 
  • Judge Sullivan has issued multiple orders recently aimed at speeding up the delivery of election mail. 
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Mere hours before the polls close Tuesday, a federal judge in Washington, DC, ordered the US Postal Service to sweep its facilities for mail-in ballots and immediately deliver any they find. 

US District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the post office to send inspectors to processing locations by 3 p.m. ET to "ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery."

The order targets facilities in Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Colorado, Wyoming, Atlanta, Houston, Alabama, Northern New England, South Carolina, South Florida, Arizona, and Lakeland, Florida. In many states, including battleground states like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Michigan, mail-in ballots can only be counted if they arrive by the time the polls close on Election Day, even if they were postmarked before Tuesday. 

Judge Sullivan's order came as the GOP has stepped up efforts to invalidate many early and mail-in ballots in battleground states. Last week, GOP officials in Texas requested that the state Supreme Court throw out more than 120,000 ballots cast at drive-through voting sites in Democratic-leaning Harris County, but the request was denied. 

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling requiring boards of elections to count mail-in ballots received by November 6 and postmarked by November 3, but the court decided to keep the extended deadline. 

On Sunday, Judge Sullivan signed an order requiring the Postal Service to reinforce its "extraordinary measures" policy to deliver ballots in a timely fashion. And on October 27, Judge Sullivan ordered the agency to inform mail carriers that they are allowed to make late and extra trips, contradicting controversial policies Postmaster General Louis DeJoy implemented in July. 

The USPS did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. 

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