On Monday, USPS officials released their findings from an audit they conducted between May and June to determine the processing readiness of election-related mail for the upcoming 2020 general election.
“The Postal Service plays a vital role in the American democratic process and this role continues to grow as the volume of election and political mail increases,” the audit reads. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an expected increase in the number of Americans who will choose to vote by mail and avoid in-person voting.”
The audit was conducted during special and primary elections held during the months of May and June in 2020. It included reviewing operations at P&DC’s that were processing mail for a special or primary election in each of the seven Postal Service areas, which were:
- Santa Clarita
- Oklahoma City
Postal Service officials noted that the audit did not include an evaluation on the recent operational changes, nor the “significant increases in delayed mail” during the summer. A separate project has been launched to investigate these items.
“While the Postal Service has made progress in preparing for the 2020 general election, there are concerns surrounding integrating stakeholder processes with Postal Service processes to help ensure the timely delivery of election and political mail,” the audit reads.
The audit lists these “potential concerns” as the following:
- Ballots mailed without barcode mail tracking technology
- Ballot mailpiece designs that result in improper processing
- Election and Political Mail likely to be mailed too close to the election, resulting in insufficient time for the Postal Service to process and deliver the mailpieces
- Postmark requirements for ballots
- Voter addresses that are out of date
“Resolving these issues will require higher-level partnerships and cooperation between the Postal Service and various state officials, including secretaries of state and state election boards,” the audit reads. “Timely delivery of election and political mail is necessary to ensure the integrity of the U.S. election process.”
Out of the 15-day evaluation period for individual centers, the Santa Clarita P&DC was specifically found to have not completed their daily certification that all political and election mail was cleared from the facility in a “timely manner” twice, which is the most out of any of the seven centers that were evaluated.
Additionally, officials found that the Santa Clarita center had not used the “Operational Clean Sweep Search Checklist,” nor had they completed the standard daily self-audit checklist.
The majority of the P&DC’s that were evaluated similarly did not regularly use these tools, resulting in roughly 8 percent of all identifiable election and political mail between April and June not being delivered on time.
“All of these issues occurred due to a lack of management oversight and unclear guidance regarding who is responsible for completing all-clear certifications, checklists, and logs, and ensuring issues are resolved, and how often these items should be completed and maintained,” the audit reads. “Not completing and using these tools could result in processing delays and lower service performance for election and political mail.”
The Santa Clarita P&DC services the Pacific region for the Postal Service, and was evaluated during the time leading up the special runoff election in May between now-Congressman Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, and Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita.