A federal judge ordered the United States Postal Service to "sweep" facilities in a dozen districts for unsent ballots Tuesday afternoon—but the USPS disregarded the order, saying it would stick to its existing schedule. In an order issued in Washington DC, District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the USPS to send inspectors to processing facilities in swing-state districts between 12:30pm and 3pm EST, Politico reports. He said the inspectors should direct workers "to sweep the facilities ... to ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery." He issued the order after the USPS said around 300,000 ballots could not be traced.
Sullivan, who has been dealing with litigation from the NAACP and other groups concerned that postal delays could affect the election results, said the sweeps should take place at facilities in the districts of Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Colorado/Wyoming, Atlanta, Houston, Alabama, Northern New England, Greater South Carolina, South Florida, Lakeland, and Arizona. Justice Department attorneys representing the USPS said the service would disregard the order because it had already scheduled a review from 4pm to 8pm, the Washington Post reports. The daily review process could not be accelerated to meet the judge's timeline "without significantly disrupting preexisting activities on the day of the Election, something which Defendants did not understand the Court to invite or require," wrote attorney John Robinson. (Read more Election 2020 stories.)