The USPS has said in a court document that 300,000 ballots may have been misplaced, as they had been scanned into its facilities, but had not been scanned out.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who ordered the U.S. Postal Service to sweep mail processing facilities in 15 states on Tuesday to find the missing ballots and have them delivered on time, was furious Wednesday that the USPS had defied his order.
Rather than complying with Judge Sullivan’s order, the USPS decided to keep to its own schedule. This raised concerns that, at the very least, tens of thousands of ballots would not be delivered to polling stations in time to be counted.
“It just leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth for the clock to run out — game’s over — and then to find out there was no compliance with a very important court order,” Sullivan said. The judge also suggested that he would demand a deposition from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
Notably, 81,000 untraced ballots spread across multiple swing states are confirmed missing. According to analysis by left-wing outlet the Washington Post, the missing ballots “are unlikely to affect the outcome of the presidential race.”
The USPS also claimed that the ballots may have been hand-sorted and delivered without an exit scan, though it did not provide data to indicate how prevalent that practice has been. It did disclose that 7 percent of ballots in its sorting facilities on Tuesday were not delivered in time to be counted.
“Even in a worst-case scenario where all potentially misplaced ballots in a state are permanently lost, those ballots amount to just a fraction of both current two-party vote margins and estimates of the number of outstanding ballots yet to be tallied,” the Post reports.
For instance, the maximum 6,624 missing votes in Georgia represent just 8 percent of the margin between President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The Post reports that in other states, the number of missing ballots is larger, at least 11,000 in Pennsylvania and at least 16,000 in Florida. The missing ballots in Arizona make up at least 24% of the margin between Trump and Biden.
Also, the Post’s analysis that “misplaced mail ballots will not be a significant factor in final vote tallies” has the caveat that it might be a factor if “the final presidential vote margins shrink to low three- or four-digit numbers in the coming days.” That is a distinct possibility in some states like Arizona and Georgia.