The US Postal Service is pulling out all the stops to rush mail-in ballots for the Georgia runoff election
Officials are working on ballot papers at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Election Headquarters in Lawrenceville, Atlanta, on Friday, November 6, 2020. AP Photo / John Bazemore
The USPS has agreed to take various measures to ensure the postal vote arrives in time for the Georgia Senate runoff, the Washington Post reported.
Under the agreement between the agency and civil rights groups, the U.S. Postal Service will treat ballots as priority mail if they are in a processing plant within three days of the January 5 election.
The postal service has struggled to keep up with the enormous volume of mail this year.
The agency said delays were due to the pandemic, which left 19,000 of its employees sick or in quarantine.
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The U.S. Postal Service agreed to take steps to expedite ballot processing and delivery prior to the Georgia runoff after talks with civil rights groups, the Washington Post reported.
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The organization agreed to treat ballot papers as priority mail if they were still in a processing facility in the three days leading up to the election. This means that postal ballot papers will be delivered the next day. In addition, ballot papers sent to the state from a New York printer would be expedited, and the postal service will search the facilities to make sure no ballots are misplaced.
In Atlanta, the USPS agreed to skip the processing operations and send the ballots directly to the polling centers.
The new policy is the result of challenges from groups like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Vote Forward.
In the Atlanta constituency, few ballot papers got to the mail processing centers on time, the Post reported. Only 80.4% of the 150,000+ postal ballot papers in the district that have already been processed were on time, but experts told the newspaper the rate should be closer to 97%.
A record number of postal ballots were recorded across the country during the November general election, and civil rights groups expect Georgia, and in particular the most populous and diverse area in Atlanta, will also beat its own records during the November elections as well.
Two Democrats, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, are working to get Republicans Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue off the field.
It does so amid an in-depth review of the U.S. Postal Service after it was determined that it would be difficult to deliver an avalanche of packages by Christmas. In some cases, mail packages are piled so high that it is difficult for employees to walk around, packages stand on trucks for several days waiting to be sorted, and employees work up to 80 hours a week.
The agency said the delays were due to the coronavirus pandemic. Around 19,000 of the agency's 644,000 employees are sick or isolated due to COVID-19.
"In the midst of the historical volume, the postal service is expanding its network and ensuring that the right equipment is available to sort, process and deliver a historical volume of mail and parcels this Christmas season," said Kim Frum, spokesman for the Post Service said insider.
"Our entire operations team, from collection to processing to delivery, worked last weekend and continues to work around the clock to address the historical volume."
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