Numerous states have received letters from the U.S. Postal Service in recent days warning them that the agency that oversees mail in the United States will not be able to fulfill requests for mail-in ballots.
The USPS said that there is not enough time for the ballots to be requested, completed and returned before the Nov. 3 presidential election, a startling development as many states have expanded mail-in voting because of the pandemic.
NBC News reached out to all 50 states to see whether they had received the USPS letter warning of issues relating to mail-in ballots. Eighteen, including Arizona, Florida and Michigan, shared the letters they received. Vermont, Wisconsin and Kentucky said they did not receive a warning from USPS.
The letters, sent by the postal service's general counsel Thomas Marshall, say that states' election "deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service's delivery standards. This mismatch creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in times to be counted under your laws as we understand them."
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you and our communities
The implication is serious, as the ballots of tens of millions of American voters eligible to vote by mail could be discarded because of delays in mail delivery. It also comes as the agency, founded by the U.S. Constitution, undergoes sweeping changes organizationally at the behest of the Trump administration and faces a grim financial outlook.