By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
The US Postal Service has agreed to provide the Democratic Party of Virginia with a daily report detailing how it has handled election-related mail as part of a lawsuit Democrats filed against the federal agency alleging that thousands of absentee ballots and applications from general registrars failed to be processed and scanned in a timely manner to get them to voters.
The USPS has rebutted the claims and told CNN in a statement last week that it was not aware of any delays in the delivery and processing of election-related material across Virginia.
In a consent order filed Thursday in the lawsuit, the USPS said it would process absentee ballots “in accordance” with its established procedures in how it handles election mail.
Procedures include postmarking completed “inbound ballots” from voters and having all mail-processing facilities and post offices continue to complete an “all clear” process — a daily sweep to certify that they are clear of all election mail committed for delivery that day.
The consent order does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by USPS.
Absentee ballots in Virginia must be postmarked on or before Election Day on November 2, and received by the general registrar’s office by noon on Friday, November 5.
The USPS said it would provide the plaintiffs and its counsel a daily report by noon every day through November 5, confirming that all its Virginia facilities did an “all clear” process the day before. For facilities that don’t report they’re “all clear” of election mail, the USPS said it would provide the “all clear” report as to why the facility had an issue and follow up if it requires further action.
The Postal Service also said it would use “reasonable efforts” to try and provide a daily report of transit times for returned absentee ballots.
In its lawsuit filed last week in the US District Court, the Democratic Party of Virginia argued that the delays potentially threatened to disenfranchise Virginia voters who wished to vote in the crucial upcoming November 2 election, and asked the court to expedite the processing of election-related mail. It claimed the delays are “particularly egregious” in Albemarle County, James City County, and Portsmouth.
The USPS “shall continue to work with Plaintiff and the Virginia Department of Elections urgently and in good faith to attempt to determine the reason that the Virginia Department of Elections’ reports appear to identify a substantial number of ‘unscanned’ ” outbound ballots in Albemarle County and Portsmouth, the court document said.
The Virginia Department of Elections told CNN last week that it does not comment on pending lawsuits.
If no further hearings are requested in the lawsuit, the court said, the suit will be dismissed on November 8.
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CNN’s Brian Rokus contributed to this report.