New data suggests that in many parts of the country, the Postal Service is moving ballots faster than regular first-class mail.
This weekend, for the first time, the Postal Service released a limited snapshot of how fast ballots, not just all first-class mail, are reaching their destination. The picture is reassuring, if very broad and incomplete. During the week ending Oct. 10, the post office delivered 95.6% of voter ballots to election offices on time and 96.7% of blank ballots to voters on time, USPS data shows. That inbound delivery rate, of 95.6%, was the highest it has been all fall. For the weeks of Sept. 12 and 19, the on-time delivery rate for ballots was 86.6% and 91.9%, respectively.
Overall, what this shows is ballots are not plagued by the same rolling delays dogging first-class mail. This reality could change at any moment. The data is not comprehensive, it doesn’t reflect problems in specific regions and even a single percentage point dip in on-time service could translate to delays for tens of thousands of ballots. In 2016, the winner of Wisconsin was decided by roughly 22,000 votes.