USPS audit raises concerns about mail-in voting issues

U.S.

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — In an audit of the United States Postal Service, investigators laid out several major concerns about mail-in ballots and other political mail ahead of the November election.

The audit took place during primary and special elections over the summer, where they reviewed the processes implemented at several facilities across the country. According to the USPS Office of the Inspector General, they found unprocessed ballots at some facilities, along with mail-in ballots and other political mail not delivered on time.

Several of the problems laid out in the audit pointed to issues outside of the control of USPS, including:

  • Ballots mailed without barcode mail tracking technology
  • Ballot mailpiece designs that result in improper processing
  • Mailed too close to the election, resulting in insufficient time for the Postal Service to process and deliver the mailpieces
  • Postmark requirements for ballots
  • Out-of-date voter addresses

Tracking ballots

Ballots in certain states and counties also feature a barcode or tracking number on the envelope.

The auditors said, “without the use of barcodes, it is extremely challenging and in many cases not possible to determine whether or not a ballot was sent through the Postal Service, returned by a voter and/or if there was a delay in the Postal Service’s processes.”

It’s not a required feature, but according to the audit document, the Postal Service recommends them to election offices. Based on data analyzed from the 2018 general election, less than 13% of the 31.1 million vote-by-mail ballots utilized barcodes.

Designs that result in improper processing

Aside from a barcode, states can utilize different several different security features on mail-in ballots to identify the voter, including voter and witness signatures, addresses, notary seals, a driver’s license or social security number.

“However, if these features are not properly located on the envelope, mail processing machines may mis-sort the mailpiece and return the ballot to the voter,” the audit stated.

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