Virginia’s Democrat Party sued the Post Office last week in Richmond’s Federal District Court saying the handling of absentee ballots may deprive thousands of their right to vote. Democrats bemoan the possible impact on the outcome of Tuesday’s extremely tight race to elect Virginia’s next Governor.
Faced with the prospect of losing the top job in a state that has been trending bluer with each election cycle, Democrats appear to be laying the groundwork for potential legal recourse to dispute a Republican win. In shades reminiscent of former United States President Donald Trump, Democrats allege that up to 300,000 mail-in ballots may be impacted by a slow-down in mail handling. Unlike Trump, however, they are not waiting until after the election to file legal action claiming election irregularities.
“Currently, based on data from the Virginia Department of Elections, 28 percent of requested absentee ballots statewide have remained outstanding with the Post Office for more than three weeks after the date they were requested and delivered to the Postal Service by general registrars for delivery,” wrote party lawyers.
The Democrats’ Oct. 22 suit asks the federal court to order the Post Office to prioritize and expedite delivery of election-related mail and deliver all election mail in Virginia no later than three days after being received by the Post Office. They also demand that all election mail in Albermarle, James City, and Portsmouth Counties be processed within 24 hours.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers allege there are thousands of ballots sitting unscanned in Post Offices in those three counties. “These unscanned ballots constituted more than a quarter — and, in the case of Albermarle, nearly half — of all ballots that voters in those jurisdictions had requested, and that the County Registrars had delivered to the postal facilities,” said plaintiff attorney Jeffrey Breit.
Post Office officials insist no such delays have occurred, and CNN reported Friday that it has agreed to provide daily election mail reports to all concerned parties.
“The Postal Service has a robust and tested process for the proper handling and timely delivery of Election Mail. Our Election Mail processes and procedures are fully operational in Virginia,” Post Office public relations representative Martha Johnson said in an email. “We are not aware of any processing delays of any ballots within our facilities nor any ballot delivery delays, and we have fully communicated this information to election officials.”
“Throughout the election cycle we work closely with state and local election officials and have been addressing any concerns that they raise. Daily sweeps are being conducted in all our Virginia facilities,” she added.
Virginia absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted. This year’s Election Day is Tuesday, November 2. All mailed ballots must be received by the general registrar’s office by noon Friday.
A CNN political fact-check article blasted Trump’s claims of election irregularities due to mail-in ballots: “Those claims are false. While there are vulnerabilities, multiple layers of protections are in place to make sure voting-by-mail is clean, both by election officials and volunteers, sometimes assisted by technology such as special software that compares signatures in a statewide database.”