The US mail (USPS) has warned that many mail-in votes might not arrive in time to be counted on the presidential polling day, 3 November.
In letters to states across the country last month, the agency said “certain deadlines… are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards”.
Critics have blamed the new USPS head – a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump – for a slowdown in deliveries.
A record number of individuals are expected to vote by mail thanks to the pandemic.
But on Thursday, Mr Trump said he was blocking additional funding for the USPS to assist with election issues, because he opposed mail-in voting.
He has repeatedly said mail-in ballots will cause voting fraud – and provides a lift to his rival Democrat Joe Biden. Experts say the mail-in electoral system – which is employed by the American military and by Mr Trump himself – is safe from tampering.
Former President Barack Obama strongly criticised what he described as Mr Trump’s “attempts to undermine the election”, writing on Twitter that the administration was “more concerned with suppressing the vote than suppressing a virus”.
Meanwhile, Congress’s two top Democrats – Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer – called on the president to prevent his “assault” on the mail and “allow the 2020 election to proceed without his sabotage tactics”.
Their comments come as a poll by Axios/ Survey Monkey found that three quarters of Republican voters decide to choose person, while quite half Democratic voters decide to use a mail vote.
Private delivery services Fedex and UPS have both rejected calls to assist ease the pressure on the postal agency.
Meanwhile, the USPS has reportedly begun removing mail sorting machines – many of which might normally be wont to process ballots during the election – consistent with Vice.
What did the USPS say?
The USPS, which has long been in financial trouble and carries about $160bn (£122bn) in debt, sent letters to states across the US in July. It warned that it couldn’t guarantee that each one vote cast by mail would arrive on time to be counted. a minimum of 15 states has received a letter, consistent with NBC News.
In a letter to Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, the USPS said mail-in ballots requested one week before the three November election – allowed under the state’s election laws – might not reach their destination on time because the state’s deadlines are too tight for its “delivery standards”.
USPS General Counsel Thomas Marshall said a “mismatch” between Pennsylvania’s laws and therefore the mail system’s delivery capabilities “creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law won’t be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them”.
The letter was made public on Thursday as Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar asked the state’s supreme court to permit ballots to be counted as long as they were received up to 3 days after the election. Currently, votes are discarded if they’re received after polling day .
Pennsylvania may be a battleground state, which Mr Trump won by but 1% within the 2016 election. Other battleground states, including Florida and Michigan, also received letters, consistent with US media reports.
The Democratic governor in Pennsylvania’s neighbouring New Jersey announced on Friday that the state would pre-emptively send ballots to each registered voter within the state. the method of sending out ballots is understood as universal mail-in voting, and has been adopted in nine other US states.
By David Willis, BBC North America correspondent
American voters are here before in fact. within the year 2000, the whole US presidential election result was decided by a couple of hundred contested votes within the state of Florida, after ballots were scrutinised and sometimes rejected, and therefore the process dragged on for weeks.
President Trump has said he wants a transparent result on election night, not a contest that drags on through the courts. But by blocking the allocation of badly needed funding to the beleaguered US mail , Mr Trump is potentially paving the thanks to a series of drawn-out legal battles that would stretch on for weeks.
According to reports here, conservative groups are marshalling a huge legal effort aimed not only at limiting the allocating of postal ballots, but challenging results that prove unfavourable to them on election night.
In possibly the harshest criticism of his successor so far, Barack Obama has accused Donald Trump of attempting to “kneecap” the US mail so as to discourage people from voting, while Mr. Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden has accused the person he’s seeking to exchange of launching an “assault on democracy”.
Source: bbc news