Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A federal judge ruled that the U.S. Postal Service must take "extraordinary measures" if necessary to deliver mail-in ballots on time in Detroit and Wisconsin.
Judge Stanley A. Bastian of the U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington ruled Friday that election mail must be cleared every day, between Nov. 1 and Nov. 10 in those two regions, and should be re-classified as Priority Mail Express, if necessary.
The USPS is required to report to the court the previous day's "all clear" status for facilities and processing centers in the Detroit and Lakeland, Wis. districts, or explain why the branch has not cleared the day's mail, the judge's order said.
The postal service must take "every effort" to deliver mail-in ballots by Election Day, including "extraordinary measures," if necessary, the judge ruled.
The Detroit district has the "worst on-time delivery of first class mail in the country," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Saturday in a statement. Even with the judge's ruling, Nessel said voters should probably hand-deliver any mail-in ballots.
"At this point, you should not use the mail to deliver your absentee ballot because, even with this order, we simply cannot be assured it will get through the mail on time to be counted," Nessel said.
A U.S. House investigation found that the Detroit District mail delivery scored between 57-85% compared to a national score of 93% or higher elsewhere in the country. That rate had risen to 70.9% in early October, according to a report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Thirteen state attorneys general sued the USPS in August over operational changes to mail delivery directed by U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in July that slowed down U.S. mail, which included removing sorting machines, cutting task time and eliminating employee overtime.
Mail delivery in the Lakeland District, which covers most of Wisconsin and some areas in northern Illinois has been having delivery issues even before DeJoy's streamlining orders.