The USPS confirmed Saturday morning six completed ballots and 42 blank ones were found after investigators were sent to the Miami location Friday afternoon. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images
TALLAHASSEE — State and federal authorities are investigating a video posted by Florida House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee allegedly showing a pile up of mail “sitting for over a week” at a Miami post office that included a handful of completed ballots.
McGhee tweeted the video around 12:30 p.m. Friday afternoon indicating it came from a “source” he did not identify. He tweeted a separate video roughly four hours later showing what he said were postal service investigators on the scene.
“I call on the Postal Service to correct this and promise the citizens of Miami-Dade that these ballots will be delivered in time,” McGhee said in a statement. “I call on Laurel Lee, Florida’s Secretary of State, and Governor Ron DeSantis to use their power and influence to guarantee every valid vote in Florida is counted.”
The USPS confirmed Saturday morning six completed ballots and 42 blank ones were found after investigators were sent to the Miami location Friday afternoon.
“The Office of Inspector General special agents confirmed the presence of delayed mail and subsequently located approximately 48 pieces of election mail,” Special Agent in Charge Scott Pierce in a statement. “The U.S. Postal Service immediately arranged for the deliver of the election mail.”
He said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Ariana Fajardo Orshan has also been briefed.
The footage from the post office in Miami, an overwhelmingly Democratic region of the state where former Vice President Joe Biden must win by large numbers if he hopes to best President Donald Trump in Florida, was made public just days before Election Day as Democrats maintain a massive vote-by-mail lead. State party leaders and the Biden campaign made a significant push to persuade Democrats to cast ballots by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump, in contrast, has called vote-by-mail susceptible to fraud and has urged Republicans to vote in person.
As of Friday morning, Democrats held a more 640,000-ballot vote-by-mail advantage. Democrat’s overall advantage is 113,078, as Republicans have dominated the in-person early voting period.
During a status conference held Saturday morning to discuss postal service-related election lawsuits, Justice Department attorney Joseph Borson told U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan that postal inspectors and postal inspector general’s office staff visited the Miami facility on Friday and found ballots amid a pile-up of mail. There is now an investigation underway, he said, and the ballots are being delivered.
“The Postal Service absolutely has been working expeditiously for the election mail,” Borson said during the hearing.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle said she is also calling for an audit of all mail ballots across the county to ensure there are no mail ballots piling up in other Miami-Dade County postal facilities.
“I have requested that all postal distribution centers be audited and any and all ballots that may remain in these centers be immediately transported to the Department of Elections,” she told the Miami Herald. “I have offered the full resources of the State Attorney’s Elections Task Force to Elections Supervisor Cristina White and South Florida’s Special Agent in Charge of the United States Postal Inspector’s Office Antonio Gomez.”
Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Election Christina White told POLITICO Friday that she was aware of the footage, which she “immediately reported…to our contact at the USPS.”
A record wave of vote-by-mail ballots has put USPS itself in the political spotlight.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor and political supporter, had enacted so-called cost cutting measures that Democrats charge were designed to slow mail service and stifle voting by mail.
On Tuesday, Sullivan, the federal judge overseeing a handful of election-related postal service lawsuits, ordered USPS to reverse limitations on mail collection that DeJoy had imposed.
“USPS personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary to increase on-time mail deliveries, particularly for Election Mail,” Sullivan wrote in his order. “To be clear, late and extra trips should be performed to the same or greater degree than they were performed prior to July 2020 when doing so would increase on-time mail deliveries.
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