USPS Blames Pandemic for Pockets of Slowed Ballot Processing as Employee Coronavirus Cases Spike

Delayed processing for mail-in ballots has spiked in many areas around the country, according to U.S. Postal Service data. The agency primarily cited unavailability of employees due to the novel coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the slowdowns.

Nearly 3,600 USPS employees are currently infected with COVID-19, while another 4,500 are in quarantine. That amounts to about 1.3% of the Postal Service’s 630,000-person workforce, enough to impact operations in some areas. The number of current infections marks a nearly 50% increase from Oct. 1, according to data from the National Mail Handlers Union, when 2,471 employees tested or were presumed positive. All told, about 15,000 postal employees have contracted COVID-19.

On Monday, the day before Election Day, on-time processing of trackable mailed ballots on their way from voters to election boards dropped below 90% for the first time since USPS began reporting daily data. Election Day serves as the deadline for ballots to be postmarked in some states and for ballots to be received by boards of election in others.

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