Nov. 2 (UPI) -- A federal judge has ordered United States Postal Service to implement some emergency election measures and remind managers of the need to address a slowdown of ballot processing.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered Sunday that the postal service must communicate to plant managers in key states that extraordinary measures are in force and must be followed to ensure delivery of ballots in time to be counted for Tuesday's presidential election.
The extraordinary measures, including daily sweeps for ballots and required certifications from plant managers, were agreed to by USPS officials last week after concerns were raised that on-time processing of mail-in ballots was slowing down, especially in key battleground states.
In Sunday's order, Sullivan required the postal service to use its Express Mail network for all ballots being sent over longer distances -- Express Mail guarantees delivery in one to two days.
Local deliveries, meanwhile, must processed and delivered on the same day they arrive, or the next morning at the latest, the judge said.
Also as part of the order, the USPS was required to send a memo by Sunday night to processing plant managers and division directors to reinforce the message that the extraordinary measures "must be put in place to ensure we delivery every ballot possible by the cutoff time on Election Day."
USPS must also send another memo to every local post office by early Monday reiterating that all ballots received must be postmarked legibly -- ballots with unclear or smudged postmarks may be rejected by election officials.
The postal service said last week it had delivered 122 million ballots ahead of the election, including blank ballots delivered from election officials to voters and completed ballots from voters to election officials.