Election officials not 'getting any answers' from USPS; USPS to investigate absentee ballot issues

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The same day the U.S. Postal Service confirmed it is launching an investigation into reports of missing absentee ballots in Wisconsin, state elections officials said postal service officials are not answering their questions.

A spokesperson for USPS said Friday it has been made aware of "potential issues with absentee ballots."

The statement continued: "It is important to note that throughout every election cycle, the U.S. Postal Service works with state and local election officials to ensure the timely delivery of Election Mail. The United States Mail system serves as a secure, efficient and effective means for citizens and campaigns to participate in the electoral process, and the Postal Service is committed to delivering Election Mail in a timely manner."

Hours later, during a teleconference Friday afternoon, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said she was having a hard time "getting any answers" from USPS officials.

Wolfe said she had asked postal service officials for clarification about several reports of problems with absentee ballots, including whether three tubs of ballots from Appleton and Oshkosh were headed to voters' homes or to clerks' offices. However, she said. USPS officials were not providing answers to her questions.

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and and Ron Johnson sent a letter this week urging USPS Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb to investigate "reports of irregularities" involving absentee ballots for Tuesday's election.

"A lot of people didn't get their absentee ballots by the 7th, and there was a lot of folks in Wisconsin who were disenfranchised in these (court) rulings. Frankly, we can't have this happen," Baldwin said.

New data Friday afternoon from WEC showed nearly 1.3 million absentee ballots were requested in Wisconsin, but only 1,084,207 had been returned. That means about 200,000 of the total ballots requested still haven't been returned.

Absentee ballots have to be postmarked by Election Day and received by 4 p.m. on April 13 to count.

Baldwin said she wants to help guarantee future elections do not have problems with absentee ballots being sent and delivered. She said Congress is in the process of putting together another COVID-19 relief package, and she's looking into provisions aiming to make it easier to vote early and vote by mail.

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