The states that could play the biggest role in tipping the presidential election to Donald Trump or Joe Biden have also experienced some of the starkest delays in delivering ballots by mail, according to newly released data from the U.S. Postal Service.
The numbers show alarming slowdowns in several major cities and swing states, even if they paint a reassuring picture for the majority of the country.
At least one day this week, fewer than 85% of ballots arrived on time by USPS standards in postal districts in Atlanta, Detroit, greater Michigan, parts of Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and Lakeland, the district covering most of Wisconsin. For first-class mail, which is how ballots are categorized, “on time” means the mail has arrived within a delivery window of 1 to 3 days.
Coupled with efforts to invalidate ballots that arrive after Election Day, mail delays could disenfranchise an untold number of voters who received their ballots late, mailed their ballots too close to Election Day, or even followed the advice of voting advocates and mailed their ballots with a week to spare.
(Note: If you have not voted by this point, you should drop off your absentee ballot at an authorized location instead of relying on the mail, or you should plan to vote in person.)
Detroit, a crucial stronghold for Democrats that has suffered slow delivery times for years — made worse by outbreaks of COVID-19 among its postal workforce — posted some of the worst on-time scores for ballots in the country.
On Tuesday, only 51.65% of inbound ballots — that is, ballots being mailed back to election officials — arrived on time. By Thursday, that number had improved to 80.2% of ballots delivered on time, but that still made Detroit one of the worst-performing postal districts in the country.
By sheer numbers, Wayne County, which covers Detroit, is projected to provide Biden with a larger net share of absentee ballots than any other county in Michigan. Absentee...