Mailed Ballots in Kentuckiana Faced Delays, USPS Data Show Thursday, Nov 5 2020 

Ballots mailed in the Kentuckiana region were consistently delayed in the days leading up to the election, according to United States Postal Service data.

The USPS released the data in response to a lawsuit filed in August by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other plaintiffs, including advocacy groups Vote Forward and Public Citizen.

The lawsuit accuses the Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy of implementing policies that slowed mail delivery during the crucial months preceding an election where voting by mail delivery played an historic role. The data provides the so-called “processing score,” which is the percentage of mail items processed on time. A federal judge has ordered the USPS to explain any issues and corrective measures the Postal Service is taking in regions where processing scores dip below 90% for two days or below 80% on one day. 

The Kentuckiana district, which includes 108 Kentucky counties and 11 Indiana counties, is one of 22 districts with processing scores low enough for concern. Other districts that have met the criteria include the Appalachian region, Greater Indiana and Central Pennsylvania.

The NAACP sued in Washington, D.C. federal court to make sure ballots are handled correctly and to “preserve the integrity of the November 2020 election, and to ensure that every American has access to reliable mail service during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the initial complaint.

The Postal Service became a factor in the 2020 election when DeJoy, the postmaster general appointed by President Donald Trump, implemented policies that the NAACP argues in its lawsuit “impeded the timely distribution of mail, implemented crippling policies on postal workers, and sabotaged the United States Postal Service in a blatant attempt to disenfranchise voters of color.”

DeJoy said the changes — limits on any extra trips for mail carriers — were to meet cost cutting goals. Many of the changes were blocked by judges in this and other cases against the Postal Service.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the Postal Service to release the latest performance data on October 27. 

The deadline to count ballots has already passed in Indiana, but Kentucky ballots postmarked by Tuesday, November 3, will be counted up until Friday. 

The plaintiffs are highlighting low-performance scores from Kentuckiana and other regions to push the Postal Service to handle ballots appropriately in the coming days.

“Because we know that the deadline for delivery to the board of elections hasn’t passed in Kentucky, and because we know that in Kentucky the deliveries have been slow, we want to do what we can to get Kentucky fixed,” Allison Zieve, an attorney representing the plaintiffs for the D.C. based advocacy group Public Citizen said. “But we don’t know how many (ballots) that is.”

The USPS has not responded to a request for comment. But the Postal Service has accompanied its court filings with warnings against drawing conclusions from performance data the agency says is incomplete. 

USPS says that, as part of its ballot processing plan, many bellows will be delivered through “local turnaround” and wouldn’t be included in the processing scores. “In short,” the government’s response to the order reads, “the scores are not representative because USPS’ extraordinary measures, which expedite delivery, are resulting in ballots not being captured by its service-performance data.”

The volume of mailed ballots processed by USPS also appears low in the Kentuckiana region compared to other regions. For example, on October 30, the Kentuckiana region handled 559 ballots on their way to the clerk’s office. That same day, USPS handled  21,627 incoming ballots in Central Pennsylvania and 27,347 in Central Ohio.

But the data does show delays: On October 24, for example, USPS reports the Kentuckiana region processed ballot mail within three days only 37% of the time. Only 53% were delivered three days after the initial three day window, according to the data.

By Election Day Kentuckiana’s processing scores had risen, but still lagged behind the rest of the country. Incoming ballots sent to the clerk’s office by way of the USPS were processed within three days 62% of the time and 88% of ballots were processed within six days.

Zieve said Kentuckiana has posted consistently low processing scores since the plaintiffs began collecting the data a few weeks ago. “The data does show that for the ones handled through the traditional USPS system, scores are low,” Zeive said. “And they haven’t explained that.”

Corey Shapiro, the legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky, says delays in the mail should be a concern for all voters in Kentucky, particularly those who are choosing to vote by mail for health reasons.

“That is not something people should expect during an election year,” Shapiro said.

On election day, judge Sullivan ordered the Postal Service to conduct sweeps of mail facilities in regions that have records of processing mail ballots in a timely manner to “ensure that no ballots have been held up.” Kentuckiana does not appear to be targeted for sweeps. Facilities that were targeted in Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Alabama, and South Florida, among others.

The Postal Service announced Tuesday it could not comply with that order by the judges’ deadline, but sweeps conducted later that day found just 13 ballots in Pennsylvania that were subsequently delivered. 

Still, the Postal Service’s late notice that it would not meet the court’s deadline led to a tense hearing on Wednesday. 

“In no uncertain terms, I’m not pleased about this 11th-hour development last night,” Judge Sullivan told Justice Department lawyers representing the Postal Service at a call-in hearing. “You can tell your clients that—and someone might have a price to pay.”

Sullivan said he wanted postmaster general DeJoy to testify under oath, either in a deposition or in the courtroom.

The post Mailed Ballots in Kentuckiana Faced Delays, USPS Data Show appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Biggest takeaways from Wednesday’s Vice Presidential debate Saturday, Oct 10 2020 

By Katie Volpentesta —

In a jam-packed news week, Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee, Senator Kamala Harris had plenty to debate about on Wednesday night. Here are the most important topics of the night as well as the biggest things to take away as a college student preparing to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Avoiding the questions.

In a move typical of political debates, both candidates found a way to skirt around a question they did not want to answer.

Pence avoided answering whether he felt that President Donald Trump and the White House was irresponsible by hosting Amy Coney-Barrett’s SCOTUS nomination ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, an event that turned into a COVID-19 super spreader event. He also avoided answering questions about how far he would go to roll back abortion rights and if he believes climate change poses a threat to the US.

Harris avoided talking about her past support for the Green New Deal (which her running mate Joe Biden does not support) and talking about if she supports lifting all restrictions on abortions.

Both candidates would not answer if they had discussed Trump or Biden’s possibility of becoming incapacitated due to old age during their terms as president. They also avoided answering a question about the possibility of Trump refusing a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

COVID-19’s Impact.

In the past week, Trump, his wife Melania, numerous White House officials, and other Republican politicians have all tested positive for COVID-19. The debate continued as scheduled with the added caveat that Harris and Pence would be socially distanced with two layers of plexiglass between them.

Pence tested negative ahead of this debate, and Harris used this opportunity to emphasize the Trump administration’s poor handing of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the debate, Pence mentioned several people who were “here in Salt Lake City with us tonight,” implying that he has invited and been in contact with several individuals before or after the debate. If Pence were to follow CDC guidelines, he should have been in a 14-day quarantine following his close contact with Trump and others who have tested positive in the last week.

Kamala Harris as a Black woman in a VP Debate.

In a political cycle that has been dominated by white men, Harris’ presence as a black woman in a major election was felt. On multiple occasions, she asked Pence and the moderator Susan Page for equal time as her opponent and refused to let Pence cut her off while she was speaking.

“I just can’t shake how surreal it was seeing a black woman debating a white man for one of the most powerful positions in the U.S,” tweeted U of L alumna Bri Williams.

Harris set an example for young women, especially women of color, as she held her own against Pence and refused to take a back seat just because she is a woman. She was aware of how gender would play into the debate, and came prepared to defend her credentials and ensure that she had equal time to speak.

The Affordable Care Act and its Impact on College Students.

Throughout the debate, Pence and Harris argued over the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Pence did not detail what his and Trump’s healthcare plan would look like should it be overturned. With over 23 million people being protected under the ACA, Harris stressed that Trump and Pence’s rollbacks of the ACA would negatively impact millions.

“If you have preexisting conditions, they’re coming for you,” Harris stressed. “If you are under 26 and on your parents insurance, they are coming for you.”

Pence’s response was to attack Biden and Harris’ plans for a potential mask mandate, calling it a “government takeover of healthcare.”

Bonus: The Fly on Mike Pence’s Head.

While Pence was talking about racial justice and systemic racism, a fly landed on his head and stayed there for a whole two minutes. It trended on Twitter in real time, as celebrities, politicians and viewers alike called it the highlight of the night.

A Twitter account was created for the fly, and the Biden campaign even posted a photo of Biden with a fly swatter that says “Truth over Flies” on their website just minutes after the debate ended.

The fly stole the show, leaving some refreshed that a fly was the most interesting part of the night compared to last week’s debate fiasco.

 

Nearly every viewer of Wednesday’s VP debate can agree that it was easier to follow than last week’s presidential debate. After this debate, it’s clear that the looming COVID-19 pandemic, the future of the Affordable Care Act, and gender and race issues will continue to stick out in voters’ minds in the last month before the election.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

The post Biggest takeaways from Wednesday’s Vice Presidential debate appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

LIVE: The 2020 Vice Presidential Debate Wednesday, Oct 7 2020 

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Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris are debating in Salt Lake City. Their only face-off of the 2020 campaign comes with a wave of uncertainty with President Trump undergoing treatment for COVID-19. Follow live updates and fact-checks on the debate.

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Secretary Of State Green Lights Jefferson County’s Voting Plan Wednesday, Oct 7 2020 

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Kentucky’s secretary of state has approved Jefferson County’s election plan.

Secretary Michael Adams made the announcement via Twitter Wednesday.

I’m pleased to announce I’ve approved Jefferson County’s election plan.


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A Pandemic Voter’s Guide For Kentucky Friday, Oct 2 2020 

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The coronavirus pandemic has forced elections officials to expand options for voters in November’s general election. This means you will have more ways to vote, including mail-in ballots and early in-person voting. But it also means many people have questions about how to vote. Here are answers to some common questions about voter registration, voting by mail, and early voting in person.

The seal of the Kentucky Commonwealth.

How do I know if I’m registered?


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What To Make Of Some Young Evangelicals Abandoning Trump Over Climate Change? Wednesday, Sep 30 2020 

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Emily Robertson is a senior at Covenant College on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Shes also an evangelical Christian, which makes her part of a key voting bloc for President Donald Trump.

But Trump wont get a vote from Robertson, who describes faith as the most important thing in her life, and who is a fellow with the growing Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. She does not like the presidents climate change agenda, or rather, the lack of one.


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Live Updates: 1st Presidential Debate Between Trump And Biden Tuesday, Sep 29 2020 

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Follow NPRs live coverage of the first 2020 presidential election debate, including fact-checking and analysis. President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are in Cleveland for the event, moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News.

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Most Kentucky County Election Plans Still Haven’t Been Approved Monday, Sep 28 2020 

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With early voting set to begin in two weeks, state officials still haven’t approved most Kentucky counties’ plans for in-person voting.

Many Kentucky counties plan to have fewer in-person polling locations amid a shortage of poll workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the summer, Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams issued an order allowing all voters to cast ballots by mail if they are worried about catching or transmitting coronavirus and requiring all counties to have early in-person voting starting on October 13.


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Ohio Valley Election Officials Prepare For Unprecedented Pandemic Election Sunday, Sep 27 2020 

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Governors, Secretaries of State, and other state and local election officials throughout the Ohio Valley are preparing for an unprecedented election during a global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced local governments to change practices that have been the same for decades, and to do so in a highly charged political environment. 

Some of the main changes are safety precautions suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State officials in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia are ensuring residents feel comfortable voting in person if they choose to, while making adjustments for those who are concerned about contracting COVID-19. 

Rules have changed to keep voters safe.


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What Do You Need To Know About Voting In Election 2020? Monday, Sep 21 2020 

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In this year like no other, Election 2020 will be unlike other elections. The coronavirus pandemic makes some of the usual in-person voting a potential health hazard. Election officials have had to create new ways to safely and fairly conduct elections. And the hyper-partisan political atmosphere can make it harder to get accurate information about how to vote.

The Ohio Valley ReSource is ready to help you get the information you need. What are your questions and concerns about Election 2020?


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