| Detroit Free Press
A U.S. District Court judge has ordered the United States Postal Service to accelerate the delivery of ballots in two regions, including Detroit, state officials announced Saturday.
Judge Stanley Bastian issued the order on Friday following a status conference with USPS and a coalition of 13 plaintiff states, including Michigan, according to a news release. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in August joined a coalition of states filing a federal lawsuit against the USPS following slowdowns in mail service.
Along with Detroit, the post office is also required to speed up delivery in the Lakeland region in Wisconsin under the order.
“The slowdown of mail delivery in our state — especially in Detroit — has had a dramatic negative impact on the timely delivery of absentee ballots,” Nessel said in the release. “This has been a serious impediment to voters who have made the effort to request, receive, vote and return their absentee ballots. The Court’s order is an important step in righting this wrong but it is only a temporary fix to an ongoing problem.”
Detroit was specifically cited in a request made to the judge, which resulted in Friday’s order, according to the release. In the Detroit region, mail delivery delays increased in September and continued through the first week of October, according to a USPS oversight report launched by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.
According to the directions for the Detroit facility and processing centers from the order: If the USPS identifies any incoming ballots in its “all clear” process from Saturday through Election Day, it should make every effort to deliver those ballots by 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday, including by using Priority Mail Express or other “extraordinary measures.”
In addition, if USPS identifies any outgoing ballots in its “all clear” process between Saturday and Monday, it should make every effort to deliver those ballots to voters on or before Tuesday, including by using Priority Mail Express or other “extraordinary measures.”
The order also says Nessel has “reasonable access to USPS facilities to monitor compliance with the Court’s orders.”
As of Friday, more than 2.6 million Michiganders cast absentee ballots ahead of Election Day. Detroit officials this week projected 50% voter turnout and fewer absentee ballots than expected.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. There’s still time to register to vote, and to request and cast an absentee ballot at a clerk’s office or drop box. Go to www.Michigan.gov/vote for more information.