OLYMPIA — U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene Tuesday called for an investigation into why five pieces of decommissioned mail-processing equipment in Redmond have not been reconnected despite a court order to make sure election ballots are delivered in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, state election officials warned residents against using an unauthorized website displaying some Washington voter data.
Tuesday’s twin developments highlight two fears percolating in the election’s final week: concerns over online disinformation and questions about the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) compliance with a court order halting Trump administration changes that have slowed some mail delivery.
Washingtonians are returning ballots early at massive rates ahead of the Nov. 3 elections, like voters around the nation after concerns that late-arriving votes might not be counted.
DelBene, a Democrat from Medina in the 1st Congressional District, called for state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to investigate after her office learned that some mail-processing equipment at a Redmond facility hasn’t been reconnected despite a court order halting some recent changes.
“Over the past few months, numerous constituents and workers closely associated with the facility have shared information showing a disturbing pattern of actions that would intentionally slow down the facility’s ability to process mail, which services King County,” according to a statement from DelBene’s office.
A federal judge last month ordered USPS to halt changes to mail processing that included dismantling gear and other moves that slowed delivery.
Those changes — which were followed by a lawsuit from Washington and 13 other states — came as President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to cast doubt on the election results by disparaging mail voting.
The court ordered the replacement or reconnection of mail-processing machines in certain facilities if they are considered unable to process mail for the election in accordance with first-class delivery standards.
In a response to inquiries from DelBene’s office, USPS wrote that “six machines were removed from service between July 31 and August 14, one of which was subsequently returned to service.”
In a letter Tuesday, DelBene asked Ferguson to “investigate whether the removal from service” of the five machines is “impeding the timely processing and delivery of election mail in violation of the September federal court injunction.”
Emails seeking comment to regional and national USPS spokespersons were not immediately returned.
Ferguson said he would follow up on the complaint.
“A federal judge in Yakima ordered the Postal Service to restore all sorting machines necessary to deliver election mail in a timely way,” said Ferguson in a statement Tuesday. “I will ensure they follow the court order. My team follows up on every complaint we receive about these issues, whether that’s from a member of Congress or an individual. This will be handled the same way.”
Also Tuesday, the secretary of state’s office reported a website to a federal government cybersecurity agency after the site posted state election data.
The office — which oversees Washington’s elections — warned state residents about the site, votewashington.info.
“It is not an official site of the Office of Secretary of State, nor is it a verifiable source of election information,” according to a tweet from the office. “Voters should not rely on this website as a source of election information.”
The website, which doesn’t state who owns it and doesn’t provide any contact information, was displaying voter turnout statistics so far per county. Another part of the site offered a search function that purportedly allows users to search by name and see whether a voter has cast a ballot.
“To our knowledge, the information currently posted on the unofficial site is all publicly available, but we’ve seen in some reported cases that the information pertaining to voters’ ballot statuses is outdated or incorrect and some voter histories are false,” wrote Secretary of State spokesperson Kylee Zabel in an email. “It is not a site that the Office of the Secretary of State developed, so we cannot verify the information that has been posted as credible.”
Officials have reported the website to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, as well as the Center for Internet Security, according to the statement.
Voters can check their ballot status at Washington’s voter-management site, votewa.gov.
Official information on ballot returns so far can be found at the secretary of state’s website.