With millions of Floridians seeking to vote by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic, postal officials have warned Secretary of State Laurel Lee that the state is at risk of having ballots go uncounted in the November presidential election.
Florida, a battleground in the election, is among states that received alerts from U.S. Postal Service General Counsel Thomas Marshall late last month. The Washington Post reported Friday that Marshall cautioned 46 states, including Florida, that mail-in ballot policies conflict with the postal service’s delivery schedules.
“This mismatch creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them,” Marshall wrote to Lee on July 29, in a letter obtained Friday by The News Service of Florida.
Certain Florida law “requirements and deadlines appear to be incompatible with the Postal Service’s delivery standards,” Marshall noted.
“As a result, to the extent that the mail is used to transmit ballots to and from voters, there is a significant risk that, at least in certain circumstances, ballots may be requested in a manner that is consistent with your election rules and returned promptly, and yet not be returned in time to be counted,” he added.
Under Florida law, county supervisors of elections can send mail-in ballots to voters up to eight days before an election.
The main classes of mail used for ballots are “First-Class Mail,” most of which is delivered two to five days after it is received, and “USPS Marketing Mail,” which is delivered three to 10 days after it is received, according to Marshall. Local elections officials use both classes of mail, he said.
Florida law, which requires ballots to be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted, allows voters to request mail-in ballots “as late as 10 days before the election,” Marshall observed.
But voters who wait that long face “a significant risk that the voter will not have sufficient time to complete and mail the completed ballot back to elections officials in time for it to arrive by the state’s return deadline,” he cautioned.
“That risk is exacerbated by the fact that the law appears to allow election officials to mail a ballot to voters until eight days before the election,” he added.
Lee said in a prepared statement provided to the News Service on Friday that she “has made it a top priority to engage with local elections officials and the USPS regarding the timely delivery and return of vote-by-mail ballots for the August and November elections.”
The state’s top elections official pointed out that Floridians have “three options for voting” — vote-by-mail, early voting and voting on Election Day.
“We encourage voters to choose whichever option best accommodates their needs, and we understand that an increased amount of voters are opting for vote-by-mail ballots this election cycle,” she said.
Lee’s office is “monitoring very closely the delivery of vote-by-mail ballots in Florida. The majority of supervisors of elections are not reporting any issues,” according to the statement.
Voters can also hand-deliver mail-in ballots to elections supervisors’ offices and early voting sites, Lee said.
“Some counties are also offering additional secure drop box locations during the early voting period,” she said. “Voters who are concerned that their ballot will not be delivered timely can take advantage of these optional drop box locations.”
While roughly one-third of Floridians typically vote by mail, supervisors expect at least double that number for the primaries and Nov. 3 general election amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The focus on mail-in ballot deadlines comes amid a national outcry over President Donald Trump’s handling of the nation’s postal service, which is in the midst of far-reaching organizational and policy-related changes ordered by Louis DeJoy. The overhaul launched by DeJoy, who was appointed by Trump as postmaster general this year, has resulted in mail delivery delays in some areas.
Trump said Thursday he opposes emergency funding for the agency, which has requested more resources, because it would help Democrats’ efforts to expand mail-in voting.
Former President Barack Obama on Friday accused Trump of trying to “actively kneecap” the postal service in advance of the Nov. 3 general election.
Marshall’s advisories to the states “go beyond the traditional coordination between the Postal Service and election officials,” according to the Post report.
In his letter to Lee, Marshall recommended that Florida voters mail their ballots no later than Oct. 27 to be received in time to be counted for the presidential election.
“To allow enough time for ballots to be returned to election officials, domestic voters should generally mail their completed ballots at least one week before the state’s due date,” he advised.
The spotlight on the delivery of mail-in ballots also comes as Trump continues to castigate mail-in voting. The Republican president has repeatedly asserted that mail-in ballots will result in voter fraud, despite a lack of evidence to support such a claim.
Trump’s attacks on vote-by-mail seem to be targeting states that have decided to send mail-in ballots or applications to all registered voters. In contrast, Floridians have to request mail-in ballots. In a social media post this month, Trump, who has voted by mail in Florida, assured that the state’s election system “is Safe and Secure.”
–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
David S. says
This is B.S. and unconstitutional . Congress needs to step up NOW to stop this….
I suppose it’s just a coincidence that the Postmaster General, a Trump sycophant, has cut back overtime hours. Sounds fishy.
Lizbeth Stewart Alberts says
Perfect idea of course myself and my son’s they all vote-by-mail and their families. Well one of them know he’s an Iraqi war veteran he says he goes down to the polls and votes. But how about we all are allowed to vote online via phone web computer how about we do that & our names electronically. That would put a stop to it and then a verification number after we press send we get our verification number so we’ve got that on file so it’s proof that we voted this is becoming too much. and I also think that if you have a police officer with a postal worker when the time comes if anyone attacks they get put in jail and they get charged with the same charged as they would if they try to attack a postal worker the president mail fraud etc etc etc
Diana L says
In the middle of a pandemic, the President of the United States is trying to make it harder for American Citizens to exercise their right to vote. I am sad and quite frankly angry about this assault. We voted for our Representatives to stand up for us and I suggest that each of us call them, every.damn.day.
Senator Rubio, 904-354-4300
Senator Scott, 407-872-7161
Rep Waltz, 386-302-0442
OK! Let’s all step up the effort to get those ballots in. IT’S VERY IMPORTANT REGARDLESS WHO WINS.
If Flagler’s SOE’s office is recruiting volunteers – go for it! Just this once relish the opportunity to make democracy work. Painting signs in protest or in favor won’t do it. You have to get physically involved.
If there is a proposal from the likes of UPS, DHL, FEDEX, and others to bond their services and comply with all Federal guidelines to deliver our ballots – HELP THEM ACHIEVE OUR GOALS. All of our votes count – every, single one.
We are in a precarious position by sitting back and allowing this crisis to be ignored and allowing it to happen. WE HAVE TO GET OFF THE COACH AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT – NOW!
Steve Naso says
The solution is simple. Request your absentee ballots on time and return them promptly. If you don’t, then you run the risk of your vote not being counted. Take personal responsibility. If one waits to the last minute to vote, then the risk of not being counted increses gretly. Don’t play the blame game. That is the easy way out. If you take personal responsibility, there is no one to blame but yourself.
Mike Cocchiola says
Steve… yes, we can help ourselves by bailing in our ballots within a day or two. But, that does not excuse Trump’s actions to restrict the ability of the USPS to process millions of mail-in ballots, whether vote by mail or absentee. From the USPS perspective, both are exactly the same. This means that our servicewomen and men are impacted. So are Americians living or visiting out of the country.
Trump is an evil, freaking liar, cheat and will stop at nothing to get what he wants and could care less about the voters. To all the Trump lovers out there, is that what you really want for a so called leader? If so, then you deserve what will happen if he wins. Unfortunately the ones that didn’t vote for him will have to pay also. Step back and pay attention to what he is causing to happen to this country.
If you can go to the supermarket, drug store or Home Depot you can vote in person. If you can’t request an absentee ballot!
Mike Cocchiola says
Veteran… do you not realize an absentee ballot is the same as a vote by mail ballot as far as the USPS is concerned. All will be delayed by the egregious actions of a rogue dictator wannabe.
Oh, yeah, your mailed bills, checks, letters, magazines, notices and everything else that runs through the USPS will be delayed. Hope you’re ready for that.
Only Me says
Trump hasn’t realized he is hurting his own election by doing this to the US Post Office, not just Democrats vote by mail.
He is trying to get people to go to the polls because he is well aware that the voting poll machines can be hacked, so that is why he is descouraging people to vote by mai, which he does himeself.
Our local election board will allow you to bring your mail in ballots to them if you don’t feel comfortable about mailing them.
What is this “drowning in a glass of water” again ? Why not have the mail in ballots that you can drive by and drop it off yourself stopping long enough to scan them. If they can do the Covid-19 testing in a parking lot ? Why not the voting ? And it’s a ballot, have you ever seen some the junk mail that still gets delivered by USPS ?
Any word from the imbecile’s puppet DeSantis?
He’s caught between the rock and……
But don’t worry he can always speak to the great job he’s doing with the pandemic.
The solution is... says
The solution for this is simple: Everyone who votes Trump, please mail in your ballot. Biden voters can show up to vote. All fixed. Wait.. no.. I forgot the polls will still be flooded with people … there’d only be like 15,690 mail in Trump ballots in FL, plus Trump and Melania’s votes, that’d make 18,967,542 total mail in votes in FL. :/
I love my USPS, but I’m not going to let Trump use the organization as his reelection guarantee – which is what is going on. I’ll vote in person, unless an executive order is signed to stop me? Just Biden my time to vote!
This post office reorganization was started before the states and voters decided to go all in fir mail in. The post office looses billions a year due to too many people delivering too few pieces of mail. Mail quantity is way down. Trump is trying to bring the USPS into at least a break even point. Cut backs needed to happen they need to stop the bleeding of funds you can’t continue to lose billions and stay in business, that is unless your run by the government. The post office is crying, because they are losing jobs and overtime. They can’t continue the way they have been going.
@Dennis — think you’re missing the entire point here.
The Postal Service is exactly that… a Service. The Postal Service reaches 150 million households — employing military vets, and ensuring people receive their medications in a timely fashion. We’ve been investing in this service for nearly 200 years.
In 2006, Congress passed the PAEA, requiring the USPS to create a $72B fund to pay for the cost of it’s post-retirement health care costs up to 75 years in the future. This burden isn’t shared with any other federal agency or private company. Thanks to this bill (passed by Susan Collins), the USPS has incurred $120B in debt. You’re incorrect with your statement of the post office losing billions due to delivering too few pieces of mail.
In a year with a deadly pandemic causing all sorts of issues, dismantling the USPS and infringing upon the rights of the citizens to safely cast their mail-in ballot is asinine.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Just a few short years ago early voting did not exist; absentee voting was only for the ill and infirm and overseas military and we all survived and even took off time from work to wait on sometimes very long lines to vote. Nobody sued or cried discrimination as I recall.
Furthermore voting booths offer, and always have offered, probably more protection than any mask can because they block your entire face on three sides and are spaced apart. No supermarket, beauty salon, post office, even doctor’s office offer more facial protection than a voting booth.
What unnerves me most of all is the me me me attitude and laziness ( in my opinion) to exercise the right we have, which right women fought and died for over 70 years until they won the right just 100 years ago this month,
I find it an insult to the memory of these brave women who would roll over in their graves if they could see how selfish and ungrateful we have become as a society to demand voting be as easy as paying a utility bill in addition to not caring about the 100% +/- guarantee your vote will count.
The US Postal Service has been closing sorting centers for several years and it is not a Republican plot to subvert our vote; on the contrary it is a plea to protect our vote from not arriving on time or arriving too late due to the US Postal Service which has been hanging on strings.
If you can get in your car, bus, taxi or Uber to shop, to eat out, to get your nails done, your hair cut you can get in your car to exercise your right that many people in other countries do not have.
Our President is far from perfect but he is not our biggest enemy – we are our own worst enemy today in my opinion,
We are being dictated to and ruled by a white nationalist and are losing a bit of our freedom. Watch out
Percy's mother says
I second Jane Gentile-Youd’s post.
I voted during early voting, and was in and out in 5 minutes (wearing a mask, as was everyone else).
Not sure why there’s such a to-do about mail-in ballots. If you go grocery shopping, why can’t you go and vote IN PERSON?
This is just more BS about absolutely nothing.
Complaining and being outraged becomes a terrible habit.
A few years ago there was no such thing as covid, seems like you forgot. So, what’s next- the police and fire departments should make a PROFIT? Speak for yourself- YOU are your own worst enemy.
Trailer Bob says
“As Trump Steps Up Vote-By-Mail “Attacks”, Postal Officials “Warn” Florida of Ballot Deadline Problems”
So Trump “Attacks”, yet the post office merely “warn”?
Either way there seems to be a problem…I guess?
I voted early, in person. I didn’t catch covid 19. I’ll vote early in person in Nov. For the record I am a totally disabled veteran, and I get myself to the polls. I will NEVER entrust another human to deliver my vote, I dont care what party they claim to be a part of or not a part of. There are established mediums for voting remotely already. All this post office stuff is GARBAGE. They have been failing for at least 15 years, yet they can give amazon free shipping, the LAST admin, yes Obama, arranged that. Now they still dump packages on the USPS in rural areas, and pay little to no shipping. In the era of reduced mail due to email and billing. I find the whole thing to be sad. It’s the new “Russia”…..Facts trump feelings.
Ok, so you say you “voted early, in person, and did not catch COVID.” You deduced from that, that therefore no one who votes early, in person will not catch COVID. Please examine the fallacy in your logic.
Patriot Not Nationalist says
There is a metal box, bolted to the concrete sitting outside directly in front of the supervisor of elections office it’s that domed building on route 100, drive past the main doors and there’s even a couple parking spots right there so you can easily and quickly drop it in the box. There are cameras for security and it is emptied every day. Do this instead of mailing your ballot.
Flagler Beach Resident says
To those who believe this is not a purposeful attempt to skew the election, you need to think again. I’m a life long Independent, and I know John McCain is rolling over in his grave; sure wish he was still around to explain it to you. Remember him veteran? He is the one Trump (deferred five times) stated he didn’t like because McCain was a POW. What about his total lack of interest in Russian bounties on our soldiers heads?
I have always stood in line to vote, but this is a pandemic (an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region) and this time, I want to vote by mail. I’m not getting my nails done, and I’m not going out to eat. Voting is my constitutional right, and Trump’s appointed Postmaster General/million dollar donor, knows exactly what he is doing to slow down the mail. Any changes to the mail service can be looked into after the election. Mail fraud is .004%.
Face it, Trump is doing everything he can to cheat. You know it; stop denying it. Trump has even admitted it. Save our democracy.
Les Paul says
I plan on voting early and often!
Several folks have the misconception that Amazon’s use of the USPS for last mile delivery is an undue burden on the service. The fact is that while Amazon did get a good rate for the delivery service, the USPS went into it with their eyes wide open and no outside pressure to give Amazon a better rate. This last mile service was not new to Amazon. Truth of the matter is that the USPS has been providing these last mile services since the 1840’s, that is right, 1840. Pinkerton’s, Wells Fargo and the REA all have used the USPS for last mile deliveries, the practice continues today with Fed Ex, UPS and DHL. This was nothing new under the Obama administration.
The USPS is not a private business, it is a government service; two entirely different concepts. It is listed in the Constitution, right there with the ‘post roads’ which are required of congress to provide for the country. You know, those federal highways that run coast to coast and north to south. How many other federal service agencies are found in the Constitution? Very few. How many others do we have in our faces everyday? Way too many, but that is another story.
Back in the 70’s my uncle was the postmaster for a very large city and he bemoaned the fact that UPS and later Fed Ex were going to be the death of the Post Office because they were undercutting the USPS on parcel post and other package mailings which were at the time the bread and butter of the post office.
I will leave you with a couple of questions; 1) How will removing sorting machines which could process tens of thousands of pieces of mail per hour be more productive than having thousands of people sort the mail by hand? And, 2) How does removing mailboxes from public access better serve “we the people”?
A. J. says
Do not let him stop u from voting.Request ballot in a timely manner. Return it in a timely manner. He always tries to find ways to win the wrong way. He is the worst president in my life time.
Thank you Denali, Flagler Beach Resident, AJ and all the others who see through trump’s attempt to stop us from exercising our constitutional right to vote. Of course, he is laying the ground work to proclaim the election is rigged in an effort to do all he can to stay in office or to excuse his defeat.
I would like to remind the FOX cult that the vast majority of Flagler citizens are NOT getting their nails done and eating inside at restaurants. Many are actually using delivery services like Amazon and even grocery delivery services. Since it surely is safer to vote by mail, a GOOD president and governor would do all in their power to make that happen, instead of trying to curtail our nationwide postal services. A GOOD legislature would change the state law and use the “POST MARK” as the cut off point for ballots instead of the “RECEIPT DATE”. The problem is, we do NOT have GOOD people in those positions.
Our government services should NOT be run as for profit, capitalists businesses! The postal service is a vital service just like police and fire protection, and those services are supported by our tax dollars.
trump appears to be willing to destroy our entire governmental infrastructure in order to amass complete power to himself personally. . . . building a dictatorship from within, while destroying the checks and balances of our Democracy and our Republic. It will take years to undo the destruction he, and his Republican sycophants have caused.
Do not let trump get away with his horrific plan. . . . VOTE!!! Make your voice heard no matter what it takes! Stand up for our country! Stand Up for American Values! Stand Up For America! VOTE!!!!!