The agency also argued that the daily delivery rates submitted to the courts do not accurately reflect performance, as scores fluctuate based on the day and volume of mail. However, a spokesperson for the Postal Service said it could not provide weekly figures by region.
The Postal Service blamed the pandemic and labor shortages for some of the low rates. As coronavirus cases increase across the country, the Detroit District reported that only 78% of its employees were available for work, while central Pennsylvania reported 84%, according to a court record on Friday.
“That’s one of the things that really worries me this year,” said Tammy Patrick, former Arizona election administrator and senior advisor to the Democracy Fund, a research and advocacy group. “As you get closer and closer to Election Day, your options tend to run out.”
Keith Combs, president of the Detroit branch of the American Postal Workers Union, said the post office was still recovering from operational cuts imposed this summer by Louis DeJoy, the post general manager, as he continued to make faced with a shortage of employees.
Safeguards in mail delivery were better than they once were, but customers were still experiencing delays, Mr Combs said. The Postal Service was careful to try to protect the ballots from slowdowns, but some could fall through the cracks, he added.
Michigan and Pennsylvania are far from the only places reporting problems. Lakeland, the postal service district that covers most of Wisconsin and northern Illinois, has consistently fallen below the national average, along with Atlanta. The Gulf of Atlantic District, which includes parts of Georgia and Florida, also performed below the national average on most days this week.
Other swing states have not experienced such widespread delays. Some Florida postal districts, including Suncoast and South Florida, have mostly had ballots to election officials at rates above 90 percent this week. With the exception of Friday and Saturday, Arizona’s on-time mail delivery rate remained above 97%.