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The 27% figure is based on a misreading of U.S. Postal Service data.
The USPS said it skipped some steps in order to get ballots to election offices faster.
Before, and in one case, on Election Day, officials from the two largest counties in South Florida went to postal facilities to guarantee they got every ballot.
The claim that the U.S. Postal service failed to deliver 27% of mail-in ballots in South Florida has popped up on Facebook and Twitter. There’s no truth to that, but it is interesting to see how one outfit raised suspicions.
The website Raw Story posted a story about newly released data on ballot delivery.
"One of the worst failures occurred in South Florida, where 27% of mail-in votes may have never been received," the Nov. 4 article said. "But those statistics might not be telling the entire story. Vice News reported Tuesday that ballots were not being scanned for delivery in an effort to speed up the process."
Anyone who read closely, or better still, went to the Vice News article, would be left with a very different impression. The Vice headline was "Why the Post Office’s Last-Minute Ballot Crisis Isn’t as Dire as It Seems."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Let’s unpack what’s going on.
The 27% figure was derived based on a tweet from Hill reporter (and former PolitiFact reporter) John Kruzel. The tweet showed USPS data, and for the South Florida delivery area, the processing score for ballots was 74.43%.
A few people took that and, with a bit of sloppy math, came up with 27% undelivered.
But anyone reading the thread in the tweet would see that in order to speed up the delivery of ballots to election offices, the postal service had said that it didn’t bother to scan ballots on their way out from the mail processing center.
"Many facilities have arranged for local turnaround," lawyers for the postal service affirmed wrote in a Nov. 3 filing.
"It’s not that they weren’t delivered," said National Association of Letter Carriers chief of staff Jim Sauber. "They were pulled out directly from the rest of the mail and delivered the same day."
We contacted the election supervisor offices of two of the largest South Florida counties, Broward and Miami-Dade. The spokesman for Broward Steve Vancore said there were zero undelivered ballots.
"We went to all 42 post offices, the main postal collection center in Oakland Park and the regional center in Opa Locka in the days leading up to and on Election Day and retrieved all the ballots that were at those sites," Vancore said. "We were at both the Aldridge and Opa Locka sites at 7:00 pm to get every last ballot."
Miami-Dade processed 510,830 mail-in ballots. In the days right before Election Day, they found 24 ballots at a postal facility that were on their way to voters and hadn’t been delivered. They made sure that they were. They also found six completed ballots. Those came to the election office and were processed.
Posts on Facebook and Twitter said that the U.S. Postal Service failed to deliver 27% of mail-in ballots in South Florida.
That was based on data that the postal service clearly said did not reflect ballot delivery rates. The sources cited by websites spreading this claim included that reality check.
The two largest counties in South Florida went to postal facilities to find any wayward ballots. In one county, they found none. In another they found 30. All issues were resolved before Election Day.
There is nothing to this claim. We rate it Pants on Fire.
This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.
Bloggers, Facebook post, Nov. 4, 2020
New Florida Majority, Facebook post, Nov. 4, 2020
Daily Boulder, USPS Did Not Deliver 27 Percent Of Mail-in Ballots In South Florida: Report, Nov. 4, 2020
Vice News, Why the Post Office’s Last-Minute Ballot Crisis Isn’t as Dire as It Seems, Nov. 3, 2020
ProPublica, For the Postal Service, a Frantic Election Day Turns to Finger-Pointing the Day After, Nov. 4, 2020
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Filing: Vote Forward v. Louis DeJoy, Nov. 3, 2020
Raw Story, USPS statistics on mail-in ballots ‘look worse than they actually are’: report, Nov. 4, 2020
Tampa Bay Times, Postal Service ordered to search for mail ballots, including in Florida, Nov. 3
Email exchange, Suzy Trutie, Deputy Supervisor of Elections, Miami-Dade County Elections Department, Nov. 5, 2020
Email exchange, Steve Vancore, spokesman, Supervisor of Election, Broward County, Nov. 5, 2020
Interview, Jim Sauber, chief of staff, National Association of Letter Carriers, Nov. 5, 2020
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