Mail Delays Fuel Concern Trump Is Undercutting Postal System Ahead of Voting
The president’s long campaign against the Postal Service is intersecting with his assault on mail-in voting amid concerns that he has politicized oversight of the agency. Mail Delays Fuel Concern Trump Is Undercutting Postal System Ahead of Voting
Trump-Backed Postmaster Genera Louis Dejoy Donated About $360,000 To Trump Victory, A Super Pac Supporting Mr. Trump’s Re-Election Bid!!!!
Welcome to the next election battleground: the post office.
President Trump’s yearslong assault on the Postal Service and his increasingly dire warnings about the dangers of voting by mail are colliding as the presidential campaign enters its final months. The result has been to generate new concerns about how he could influence an election conducted during a pandemic in which greater-than-ever numbers of voters will submit their ballots by mail.
In tweet after all-caps tweet, Mr. Trump has warned that allowing people to vote by mail will result in a “CORRUPT ELECTION” that will “LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY” and become the “SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES.” He has predicted that children will steal ballots out of mailboxes. On Thursday, he dangled the idea of delaying the election instead.
Members of Congress and state officials in both parties rejected the president’s suggestion and his claim that mail-in ballots would result in widespread fraud. But they are warning that a huge wave of ballots could overwhelm mail carriers unless the Postal Service, in financial difficulty for years, receives emergency funding that Republicans are blocking during negotiations over another pandemic relief bill.
At the same time, the mail system is being undercut in ways set in motion by Mr. Trump. Fueled by animus for Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and surrounded by advisers who have long called for privatizing the post office, Mr. Trump and his appointees have begun taking cost-cutting steps that appear to have led to slower and less reliable delivery.
In recent weeks, at the direction of a Trump campaign megadonor who was recently named the postmaster general, the service has stopped paying mail carriers and clerks the overtime necessary to ensure that deliveries can be completed each day. That and other changes have led to reports of letters and packages being delayed by as many as several days.
This is the USPS Board of Governors. These six men have the power to fire Trump-appointee Louis DeJoy.
They have the power to rollback Trump’s hobbling of the USPS.
They have the power to save a free and fair election.
I encourage you to contact them and explain why mail-in voting matters to you.
Good advice for people who feel unsafe about voting in person but now fear the USPS will be unable to deliver a “mail-in” ballot in a timely fashion.
There Is A Way Around It:
1. Request a mail-in ballot. Also, check to see if your State has website where you can download an electronic copy and copy, print it out and hand deliver it!
2. Do not mail it.
3. Google your supervisor of elections to see where you can drop off your mail-in ballot.
Its usually NOT THE POLLING PLACE.
All states allow this!
Here is what you’re accomplishing by doing this:
1. You’re not relying on the USPS to get your ballot in on time, so no matter what, your ballot gets in on time.
2. You don’t have to worry about standing in long lines and risking infection. You’re just stopping by to drop it off.
3. You still voted! Hooray!
Also, when you drop it off find out how to track it online to make sure it is verified. California, Oregon, Washington Colorado have systems that can track your ballot just like tracking a package from Amazon.
***This is very important and I would appreciate everyone who sees this to copy it on their Facebook page.
Back To The Article:
“We have an underfunded state and local election system and a deliberate slowdown in the Postal Service,” said Wendy Fields, the executive director of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of voting and civil rights groups. She said the president was “deliberately orchestrating suppression and using the post office as a tool to do it.”
Kim Wyman, the Republican secretary of state in Washington, one of five states where mail-in balloting is universal, said Wednesday on NPR’s “1A” program that “election officials are very concerned, if the post office is reducing service, that we will be able to get ballots to people in time.”
During his eulogy on Thursday for Representative John Lewis, former President Barack Obama lamented what he said was a continuing effort to attack voting rights “with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”
Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, defended the changes, saying in a statement that the ban on overtime was intended to “improve operational efficiency” and to “ensure that we meet our service standards.”
Mr. DeJoy declined to be interviewed. David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said that the nation’s post offices had “ample capacity to adjust our nationwide processing and delivery network to meet projected election and political mail volume, including any additional volume that may result as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
A plunge in the amount of mail because of a recession — which the United States entered into in February — has cost the Postal Service billions of dollars in revenue, with some analysts predicting that the agency will run out of money by spring.
Democrats have proposed an infusion of $25 billion. On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans, who are opposed to the funding, of wanting to “diminish the capacity of the Postal System to work in a timely fashion.”
Arthur B. Sackler, who runs the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a group representing the biggest bulk mailers, said the changes were concerning even though his organization did not take a position on voting by mail.
“Like any other mail, this could complicate what is already going to be a complicated process,” Mr. Sackler said. “A huge number of jurisdictions are totally inexperienced in vote by mail. They have never had the avalanche of interest that they have this year.”
Many states have already loosened restrictions on who can vote by mail: In Kentucky, mail-in ballots accounted for 85 percent of the vote in June’s primary. In Vermont, requests for mail-in ballots are up 1,000 percent over 2018.
Michigan voters had requested nearly 1.8 million mail-in ballots by the end of July, compared with about 500,000 by the similar time four years ago, after the secretary of state mailed absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters.
In the suburban Virginia district of Representative Gerald E. Connolly, a Democrat who leads the House subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, 1,300 people voted by mail in a 2019 primary — last month, more than 34,000 did.
“We are worried about new management at the Postal Service that is carrying out Trump’s avowed opposition to voting by mail,” Mr. Connolly said. “I don’t think that’s speculation. I think we are witnessing that in front of our own eyes.”
Erratic service could delay the delivery of blank ballots to people who request them. And in 34 states, completed ballots that are not received by Election Day — this year it is Nov. 3 — are invalidated, raising the prospect that some voters could be disenfranchised if the mail system buckles.
In other states, ballots can be tallied as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, but voting rights groups say ballots are often erroneously delivered without a postmark, which prevents them from being counted.
The ability of the Postal Service “to timely deliver and return absentee ballots and their work to postmark those ballots will literally determine whether or not voters are disenfranchised during the pandemic,” said Kristen Clarke, the president of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
In New York, where officials urged people not to cast ballots in person during June’s primary, counting of mail-in ballots is still underway weeks later, leaving some crucial races undecided. In some cases, ballots received without postmarks are being discarded.
Making the problem worse, New York law requires that election officials wait to begin counting mail-in ballots until the polls close on Election Day. Other states allow counting to begin earlier, though most insist that no results be revealed until after voting ends. In Arizona, officials can begin tallying votes 14 days early. In Florida, officials can begin verifying signatures on ballots 22 days before the election.
Mr. Trump and his allies have seized upon the New York debacle as evidence that he is right to oppose mail-in ballots. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, called it an “absolute catastrophe,” and the president referred to New York in a tweet that said, “Rigged Election, and EVERYONE knows it!”
But Mr. Trump — who himself has repeatedly voted by mail in recent elections — has set in motion changes at the Postal Service that could make the problem worse.
A series of Postal Service documents titled “PMGs expectations,” a reference to the postmaster general, describe how Mr. Trump’s new leadership team is trying to cut costs.
“Overtime will be eliminated,” says the document, which was first reported by The Washington Post. “Again, we are paying too much overtime, and it is not cost effective and will soon be taken off the table. More to come on this.”
The document continues: “The U.S.P.S. will no longer use excessive cost to get the basic job done. If the plants run late, they will keep the mail for the next day.”
Another document, dated July 10, says, “One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that — temporarily — we may see mail left behind or on the workroom floor or docks.”
With the agency under financial pressure, some offices have also begun to cut back on hours. The result, according to postal workers, members of Congress and major post office customers, is a noticeable slowdown in delivery.
“The policies that the new postmaster general is putting into place — they couldn’t lead to anything but degradation of service,” said Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union. “Anything that slows down the mail could have a negative impact on everything we do, including vote by mail.”
The Postal Service, which runs more than 31,000 post offices in the United States, has struggled financially for years, in part because of its legal obligation to deliver mail everywhere, even remote locations that would be unprofitable for a private company.
A 2018 report by the Treasury Department recommended an overhaul of the Postal Service, which the report said accumulated losses of $69 billion from 2007 to 2018.
But the administration’s critics say the changes being put in place by Mr. DeJoy are part of a political agenda to move toward privatization of the Postal Service.
In mid-July, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Mr. Connolly wrote a letter to Mr. DeJoy raising questions about the ban on overtime and the other changes.
“While these changes in a normal year would be drastic,” the lawmakers wrote, “in a presidential election year when many states are relying heavily on absentee mail-in ballots, increases in mail delivery timing would impair the ability of ballots to be received and counted in a timely manner — an unacceptable outcome for a free and fair election.”
Mr. Trump has been assailing the Postal Service since early in his presidency, tweeting in 2017 that the agency was becoming “dumber and poorer” because it charged big companies too little for delivering their packages.
The president has repeatedly blamed Mr. Bezos, who is also the owner of The Washington Post, for the financial plight of the Postal Service, insisting that the post office charges Amazon too little, an assertion that many experts have rejected as false.
In the past three years, the president has replaced all six members of the Postal Service Board of Governors.
In May, the board, which includes two Democrats, selected Mr. DeJoy, a longtime Republican fund-raiser who has contributed more than $1.5 million to Mr. Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, to be postmaster general. According to financial disclosures, Mr. DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, who has been nominated to be the ambassador to Canada, have $115,002 to $300,000 invested in the Postal Service’s major competitor, UPS.
Two board members have since departed. David C. Williams, the vice chairman, left in April over concerns that the Postal Service was becoming increasingly politicized by the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with his thinking. Ronald Stroman, who oversaw mail-in voting and relations with election officials, resigned in May.
One of the remaining members, Robert M. Duncan, is a former Republican National Committee chairman who has been a campaign donor to Mr. Trump.
In accusing the administration of politicizing the Postal Service, the president’s critics point to a recent decision to send a mailer detailing guidelines to protect against the coronavirus. The mailer, which featured Mr. Trump’s name in a campaignlike style, was sent in March to 130 million American households at a reported cost of $28 million.
According to Postal Service emails obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Trump was personally involved.
“I know that POTUS personally approved this postcard and is aware of the USPS effort in service to the nation — pushing information out to every household, urban and rural,” John M. Barger, a governor of the postal system, wrote in an email to the postmaster general at the time.
In another email, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told a member of the board that Dr. Stephen C. Redd, a deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “will make this happen.” The mailer received a go-ahead from the White House before it was sent out, the emails show.
S. David Fineman, who served on the board under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said that during his time, the board rarely if ever had contact with the White House.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” he said. “No one would have thought that we would have sought the input of the administration.”
The Post Office Is Deactivating Mail Sorting Machines Ahead Of The Election
Good thing nobody’s predicting a huge surge in mail any time soon.
The United States Postal Service is removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given, Motherboard has learned through interviews with postal workers and union officials. In many cases, these are the same machines that would be tasked with sorting ballots, calling into question promises made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that the USPS has “ample capacity” to handle the predicted surge in mail-in ballots.
Motherboard identified 19 mail sorting machines from five processing facilities across the U.S. that either have already been removed or are scheduled to be in the near future. But the Postal Service operates hundreds of distribution facilities around the country, so it is not clear precisely how many machines are getting removed and for what purpose.
Even to local union officials, USPS has not announced any policy, explained why they are doing this, what will happen to the machines and the workers who use them. Nor has management provided a rationale for dismantling and removing the machines from the facility rather than merely not operating them when they’re not needed.
“I’m not sure you’re going to find an answer for why [the machines being removed] makes sense,” said Iowa Postal Workers Union President Kimberly Karol, “because we haven’t figured that out either.”
The postal workers Motherboard spoke to said having machines removed, replaced, or modified is nothing new, but this time it seems to be more widespread, include a larger number of machines at their respective facility, and potentially impacts the facility’s ability to process large numbers of mail, including ballots, in a short time span.
“Look at it this way: Your local grocery store was forced to cut 1/3 of its cash-out lines, but management expected the same productivity, quality, and speed for the customer,” said an employee at a Buffalo distribution facility, which they said is set to lose six out of 21 mail sorting machines. “It’s just never going to happen.”
After publication, USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer told Motherboard, “The Postal Service routinely moves equipment around its network as necessary to match changing mail and package volumes. Package volume is up, but mail volume continues to decline. Adapting our processing infrastructure to the current volumes will ensure more efficient, cost effective operations and better service for our customers.”
Do you work for the post office? Do you know anything about sorting machines being removed from distribution facilities? We’d love to hear from you. Email Aaron Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the consequences of this new policy are mostly unclear for now, it neatly fits with the sudden, opaque, and drastic changes made by DeJoy, a longtime Republican fundraiser and Trump donor, in the less than two months he’s been postmaster general. Like his other changes, including the curtailing of overtime resulting in the widespread mail delays and sudden reorganization of the entire USPS, it is possible to see some semblance of corporate logic while second-guessing the decision to make drastic changes on the eve of the presidential election in which the USPS will play a critical role.
Most of the machines being dismantled in the facilities Motherboard identified are delivery bar code sorters (DBCS), into which letters, postcards and similarly sized mail (but not magazines and large envelopes, which are categorized as “flats” and sorted differently) are fed. The DBCS sorts the mail into one of hundreds of “stackers,” a slot about a foot long. Each slot is for a different destination, be it another post office or distribution facility.
A DBCS typically requires two workers to operate: one to feed the mail into the machine, and the other to collect the mail from the stackers and put them in the appropriate bins for transport. Running at peak efficiency, the machines can sort about 35,000 pieces of mail per hour, a remarkable and oddly mesmerizing feat. But during times of short staffing or low mail volume—both of which have occurred during COVID—DBCSs can be run with one and a half or even just a single worker, albeit less productively.
Marketing mail is down more than 15 percent through June of this year compared to last year. While this is a much steeper drop than recent years, it is continuing a decade-long trend of mail volume decline for everything but packages. In other words, DBCSs have less mail to sort than they ever have before and it’s far from clear how much of that mail is ever coming back. So it stands to reason the USPS might not need as many of them.
The postal workers interviewed by Motherboard understood this, and in some cases even made the argument some DBCS machines might be of better use at other facilities. But they had other concerns about removing the machines altogether. If something goes wrong with the DBCSs they have left, there are fewer machines to pick up the slack.
“When you take out one of the machines, it takes away our ability to respond to unforeseen things that may happen,” said Karol, who added that although her facility in Waterloo will have other DBCSs, having fewer of them “limits our ability to respond” by making adjustments and moving mail around.
Paul McKenna, president of Milwaukee Area Local 3 of the American Postal Workers Union, said that some of the DBCSs staying will have about 50 more stackers added to them, meaning the machines can sort mail to a larger number of destinations.
This will help alleviate the pressure during high mail volume periods like the Christmas rush—when there is simply more mail in general to all places—as well as provide advantages during lower-volume periods like the dead of summer. But it won’t necessarily help the unique challenge of election mail. In that case, the mail surge stays local.
Some letter carriers and distribution facility employees told Motherboard election mail is often sorted by hand to ensure it gets handled promptly and properly, but this seems to vary by location.
That being said, this would only be a problem for voters who waited until the last minute to send back their ballots. If mail-in ballots are sent and returned over a period of weeks instead of days, it is unlikely, the postal workers said, to stress the machines even if some are taken away.
“We would have the capacity to run the volume of ballots that are expected if we have it in a longer period of time,” said Paul McKenna, president of Milwaukee Area Local 3 of the American Postal Workers Union. He likened it to flattening the curve of coronavirus. Now, he said, Americans have to flatten a different curve.
US Postal Service Envisions Blockchain-Backed Mail-In Voting
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has moved to patent a novel vote-by-mail elections system secured with blockchain technology.
* An application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and filed by USPS on Feb. 7 envisions combining the “dependability and security” of the USPS with blockchain “to prevent tampering” of electronic ballots.
* Saying in the filing that voters want a “convenient” means to access the polls, USPS offers a number of different methods to accomplish this objective.
* Among the various “embodiments” include: mailing out token-linked QR codes; distributing scannable paper passcodes to a digital voting system; storing voter identification on the blockchain; storing electronic voting signatures on the blockchain; and storing the votes themselves on the blockchain.
* Whether any of these proposals could bolster mail-in ballot security or avoid the pitfalls security researchers routinely lob at existing blockchain-backed voting systems was unclear at press time.
* Also unclear was the Postal Service’s intentions for the patent. A USPS press officer did not immediately respond to questions on whether or when USPS would actually test its methods.
* Any change to the United States’ patchwork voting systems would almost certainly proceed down to the state and county level.
* Forbes first reported the news, which comes at the height of a rhetorical standoff between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and the very concept of secure mail-in voting. Trump claims secure mail-in voting to be all but impossible.
US Postal Service Files Blockchain Voting Patent Following Trump Cuts
Is it enough to meaningfully resist election fraud?
A new patent has been filed by the U.S. Postal Service, or USPS, following recent comments from President Donald Trump concerning the mail service’s funding in light of his fight against mail-in voting. The patent appears to use Blockchain technology to make mail-in voting a safe alternative to physical polling stations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This developement releates to a voting system that also incorporates the use of cryptographic elements, such as blockchains, as are used with cryptographic currencies, to track and secure the vote by mail system,” said a patent filing, dated Aug. 13, 2020.
COVID-19 still remains a global hot topic as the 2020 U.S. presidential elections draw closer. As a result, mail-in voting has also surfaced as a point of contention among members of the country’s political parties. Trump opposes the movement, and has posited the idea of withholding further USPS funding in light of the situation, a CNBC article said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi And Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer Order Postal Service To Stop Sabotaging Election!
“Postmaster General DeJoy must quickly reverse his operational changes that have led to delays and service reductions for too many Americans and threaten to undermine our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
The top two Democrats in Congress called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Friday to reverse postal service changes they say have led to mail delays.
DeJoy, who has donated $2.7 million to Trump and his fellow Republicans since 2017, in July ordered operational changes and a clampdown on overtime in a bid to fix the financially troubled service.
The shakeup is leading to mail delays, union officials said on Tuesday, heightening concerns that an ally of Trump is destabilizing the service as millions of Americans consider whether to cast their ballots by mail in the Nov. 3 elections.
“House and Senate Democrats call on the President to immediately cease his assault on the Postal Service, make clear that he will allow the 2020 election to proceed without his sabotage tactics and enable the American people the same opportunity he and the First Lady requested this week to vote by absentee ballot,” the statement said.
Trump has charged, without giving evidence, that mail-in voting will lead to fraud in the elections. Experts say that fraud is rare in all types of voting.
Postal Service Inspector General Reviewing Dejoy’s Policy Changes And Potential Ethics Conflicts
The internal watchdog at the United States Postal Service is reviewing controversial policy changes recently imposed under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and is also examining DeJoy’s compliance with federal ethics rules, according to a spokeswoman for the USPS inspector general and an aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who requested the review.
Lawmakers from both parties and postal union leaders have sounded alarms over disruptive changes instituted by DeJoy this summer, including eliminating overtime and slowing some mail delivery. Democrats claim he is intentionally undermining postal service operations to sabotage mail-in voting in the November election — a charge he denies.
Agapi Doulaveris, a spokeswoman for the USPS watchdog, told CNN in an email, “We have initiated a body of work to address the concerns raised, but cannot comment on the details.”
Last week, Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, and eight other Democratic lawmakers asked the inspector general to launch an inquiry into DeJoy on a number of fronts, including the nationwide policy changes he’s made since taking over in June, as well as whether DeJoy has “met all ethics requirements.”
“We have learned that the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General is investigating all aspects of our request,” Warren spokeswoman Saloni Sharma told CNN.
It’s unclear if the inspector general has launched a full-scale investigation into possible politicization at USPS by DeJoy, a Trump ally and Republican donor, or if it’s just reviewing the matter for Congress.
CNN first reported earlier this week that DeJoy still owns at least a $30 million equity stake in his former company — a USPS contractor — and that he recently bought stock options for Amazon, a USPS competitor. These holdings likely create a major conflict of interest, ethics experts told CNN, though DeJoy and USPS maintain that he has complied with all federal requirements.
The inspector general has already requested documents as part of the ongoing review, Sharma told CNN. It is still unclear what specific documents they asked for, and who got the requests.
USPS’ main office did not respond to CNN’s outreach for comment.
On Thursday, Warren said on Twitter DeJoy’s “inexcusable” stock options in Amazon should be investigated by the watchdog after CNN published its report detailing the trades included in DeJoy’s financial disclosures.
Trump-Dejoy Relationship Scrutinized
The relationship between DeJoy and President Donald Trump has come under intense scrutiny, given Trump’s repeated attacks against mail-in voting and USPS’ key role in delivering ballots.
News of the watchdog review comes one day after Trump brazenly admitted that he opposes much-needed USPS funding because he doesn’t want to see it used for mail-in voting this November.
The pandemic has led to record-breaking levels of voting-by-mail, but Trump has tried to restrict the method because he claims it is rife with fraud and abuse, claims that CNN has fact-checked multiple times and are largely without merit.
Democrats pounced on Trump’s comments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were pushing to include $25 billion for USPS in the next stimulus bill because that was what was requested by the bipartisan board of governors who run USPS and were appointed by Trump.
Further raising questions about the USPS showdown, the White House said Friday that Trump and DeJoy met at the White House last week, even though Trump said he “didn’t speak to the postmaster general” when he was asked about DeJoy’s cutbacks a few days after their meeting.
A White House spokesman told CNN that their meeting on August 3 was “congratulatory” to celebrate DeJoy’s confirmation by the USPS board of governors, which occurred in early May. DeJoy has been running the USPS since June 15.
This week, DeJoy acknowledged to USPS employees that recent procedural changes have had “unintended consequences,” but described them as necessary.
“Unfortunately, this transformative initiative has had unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels,” DeJoy wrote in a memo sent this week and obtained by CNN.
“However, recent changes are not the only contributing factors. Over the years we have grown undisciplined in our mail and package processing schedules, causing an increase in delayed mail between processing facilities and delivery units.”
Potential Conflicts Of Interest
Earlier this week, CNN reported on newly obtained financial documents showing that DeJoy holds a large equity stake in his former company, XPO Logistics, totaling between $30 million and $75 million. XPO is a contractor for USPS and other US government agencies.
USPS officials signed off on DeJoy’s financial filings and told CNN that he is in compliance with federal ethics rules. But several outside experts who spoke to CNN said they were shocked that ethics officials approved this arrangement, which apparently allows DeJoy to keep his XPO holdings. One expert even said, “this is a classic case for investigation by an inspector general.”
DeJoy and USPS have said he fully complied with the regulations.
Raising further alarms, on the same day in June that DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon shares, he purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price, according to the financial disclosures. The filings indicated that DeJoy’s stock options in Amazon were valued between $50,000 and $100,000.
In a tweet on Thursday, Warren blasted DeJoy, saying his decision to buy Amazon stock options was “inexcusable.” She also said the USPS inspector general “must investigate this corruption.”
“I take my ethical obligations seriously, and I have done what is necessary to ensure that I am and will remain in compliance with those obligations,” DeJoy said in a statement given to CNN.
Protesters March On Home Of U.S. Postmaster General, Demand Resignation
The protest was organized by the group Shut Down D.C which accused DeJoy of undermining the Post Office to make it more difficult to count mailed in ballots for the 2020 elections
Protesters gathered at the home of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Saturday to demand his resignation — a significant escalation of public pressure amid a pitched battle over mail-in ballots for the 2020 presidential election.
About 100 demonstrators gathered outside DeJoy’s home in the wealthy Washington D.C. enclave of Kalorama.
The crowd banged drums and shook noisemakers, while holding signs reading “Save democracy, stop sabotaging the USPS”.
The protest was organized by the group Shut Down D.C which accused DeJoy of undermining the Post Office to make it more difficult to count mailed in ballots for the 2020 elections.
“We’re in the middle of a historic pandemic and as many as 40 percent of Americans plan on casting their ballot by mail. If we can’t rely on those ballots getting to where they need to go, we’ve got a serious problem with democracy,” Patrick Young, of Shut Down D.C. told WUSA9 News.
Trump Defends Postmaster General Amid Vote-by-Mail Concerns
The president called DeJoy a ‘brilliant businessperson’ but said he didn’t know what he was doing at the Postal Service.
President Trump on Saturday defended Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, reiterating his support for the head of the U.S. Postal Service amid concerns that recent changes at the agency could slow voting by mail.
“He’s a fantastic man. He wants to make the post office great, again,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. DeJoy during a news conference in New Jersey.
The president called Mr. DeJoy a “brilliant businessperson” and a “very smart man,” but said he didn’t know what he was doing at the Postal Service.
Amid a mounting financial crisis at the agency, Mr. DeJoy has put in place cost-saving measures in recent weeks, including reducing deliveries outside normal service, and the Postal Service has removed some mail-sorting machines from places it says they weren’t needed.
The changes led to complaints of delivery delays and spilled over to wider concerns about the presidential election, in which many voters expect to cast ballots by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Postal Service has warned some states that it can’t promise it will deliver all mailed ballots in time to be counted.
The U.S. Postal Service’s governance board had chosen Mr. DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman and Republican donor, as postmaster general in May.
Election Officials Seek Answers From Postal Service Over Mail-In Ballots
Postal Service is warning some states about deliveries of ballots sent close to Election Day.
Election officials in some states are voicing concerns that recent changes at the U.S. Postal Service might slow voting by mail, with the agency warning all states about timely deliveries of ballots sent close to Election Day.
Some secretaries of state, both Democrats and Republicans, have asked the Postal Service for more information about handling an expected surge in mail ballots, after complaints from some business and postal-union representatives about delays to ordinary mail deliveries.
“They’re making operational improvements or changing the way they do things, that’s fine, but we don’t want to see it detrimental to the election,” Frank LaRose, Ohio’s secretary of state and a Republican, said in an interview.
Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general who took over in June, has put in place cost-saving measures in recent weeks, including reducing deliveries outside normal service, and the Postal Service has removed some mail-sorting machines where it says they weren’t needed.
The changes led to the complaints of delivery delays and spilled over to wider concerns about an election in which many voters expect to cast ballots by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. DeJoy, a former logistics company executive and Republican donor, told the Postal Service’s board of governors earlier this month that agency “has ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on time in accordance with our delivery standards.”
The Postal Service sent letters last month to election officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, echoing public reminders that mail-in balloting shouldn’t be left to the last minute. The Postal Service disclosed the letters on its website in response to a records request.
In several of the letters reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the Postal Service warned certain states that it can’t promise it will deliver all mailed ballots in time to be counted. The letters said tight deadlines allowed by some states are to blame, depending on state laws.
Some states allow voters to request and cast a mail-in ballot up to a few days before Election Day. That might be insufficient time for delivery and “creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted,” said a July 29 letter from the Postal Service’s general counsel to Pennsylvania’s top election official.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said the letter she received reiterated the need for election officials to work with postal officials to avoid a last-minute crunch. She added: “If this letter aims to backtrack on that collaboration or the promise of prioritization of election mail, that would be very concerning.”
The National Association of Secretaries of States, a nonpartisan group representing many states’ top election officials, recently asked to meet with the new postmaster general to discuss their concerns about the election, said Mr. LaRose, who helps run the group’s election committee. The Postal Service says it is working to set up a meeting.
Several election officials said they meet frequently with other postal representatives, and they hadn’t encountered changes in delivery times in their regions. “It’s certainly something we’re watching,” said Republican Kim Wyman, the secretary of state of Washington state, which routinely votes almost exclusively by mail.
The Postal Service has recommended in public statements that voters should make their request no later than 15 days before Election Day to allow adequate time to receive the ballot, fill it out, and mail it back at least a week before their state’s due date.
Wrangling over the logistics of ballot delivery has been amplified by partisan politics. Mr. Trump, in remarks Thursday, tied his efforts to block new funding for the Postal Service to hampering efforts to expand mail-in voting, which he has said favors Democrats and is subject to fraud.
Researchers have said mail-in voting doesn’t appear to favor either party and while isolated cases of fraud linked to mailed ballots have occurred, it hasn’t been widespread and states employ safeguards.
Mr. Trump later clarified his remarks, saying he wasn’t threatening to veto any legislation with funding for the Postal Service and would consider signing separate legislation that included such funds.
Democrats said the president’s comments show he is trying to undermine the Postal Service for political gain.
“The president made plain that he will manipulate the operations of the Post Office to deny eligible voters the ballot in pursuit of his own re-election,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said Friday.
The back-and-forth over voting by mail comes as election officials and experts say time is running out to lock into place systems for casting and counting ballots, with only weeks before some states begin mailing ballots to voters.
Ron Stroman, former deputy postmaster general from 2011 until earlier this year, said the Postal Service in the past usually avoided making substantial changes to delivery before an election. “With an organization as large as USPS such changes can be complex,” he said, and that could show up in delivery times.
The sheer volume of mail-in ballots expected this election isn’t likely to be a problem for the Postal Service, some election experts said, even if the timing is.
Charles Stewart, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies elections administration, said that a high estimate of 100 million Americans voting by mail would generate at most 300 million pieces of mail—ballot-request forms and ballots if mailed both ways, though not every state requires all those steps.
That sum, Mr. Stewart said, would constitute 1% to 2% of all pieces in the daily postal flow. The Postal Service says it handled 142.6 billion pieces of mail in 2019.
Some states are already taking steps to reduce the impact of any delays. In Democratic-controlled Nevada and Republican-run Mississippi, lawmakers have extended deadlines to accept ballots mailed by Election Day even if they arrive at election offices some time later. Minnesota approved a similar extension as part of a court settlement after legal challenges brought by Democratic allies.
The Trump campaign and other Republicans groups have sued to block Nevada’s election plan saying it is potentially vulnerable to fraud. Among their objections is Nevada’s rules potentially permit voting by mail after Election Day since ballots are deemed acceptable if they arrive with no postmark three days after Election Day. The Nevada State Democratic Party and Democratic National Committee said the rules protect safety and voting rights amid the pandemic.
Pennsylvania, citing the Postal Service’s warning, on Thursday asked the state’s Supreme Court to allow counting of absentee ballots received as many as three days after the election because of postal delays, so long as they were mailed by Election Day.
One alternative to mailing is ballot drop boxes, in which voters can drop off their completed ballot to return it. Michigan, Georgia and Connecticut are among the states that have added drop boxes, which are designed with security features such as security cameras in some cases.
Officials urged voters to act early. “If you’re going to use the absentee ballot process, you need to do it early,” said West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican.
“It’s a bad idea to procrastinate,” said Ohio’s Mr. LaRose.
No, The Postal Service Isn’t Losing A Fortune On Amazon
President Donald Trump took a swing at Amazon once more on April 2, blaming the digital retailer for the United States Postal Service’s financial woes.
“Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon,” Trump tweeted. “THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country…not a level playing field!”
Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country…not a level playing field!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018
We addressed the closing of retailers across the country in another Amazon-USPS tweet-inspired story last week. (Trump had a point.) But for this fact-check, we wondered whether Amazon is causing the Postal Service to “lose a fortune.”
The post office is losing a fortune, but Trump is wrong to blame Amazon.
Parcels Are Growing The Postal Service
The Postal Service reported a net loss of $2.7 billion for 2017. It has lost $65.1 billion since 2007. Much of the red ink is attributed to a 2006 law mandating that USPS pre-fund future retirees’ health benefits.
First-class mail, the USPS’ biggest source of revenue, also continued to shrink, seeing a $1.87 billion revenue loss in fiscal year 2017.
Package delivery, however, was one of the few bright spots in its latest financial statement. In 2017, parcels brought in $19.5 billion, or 28 percent of USPS’ annual revenue. At $2.1 billion, packages contributed the largest revenue increase.
Deals with private shippers like Amazon accounted for $7 billion of the $19.5 billion in revenue. While we know that Amazon is the biggest e-commerce player, we don’t know exactly how much of the $7 billion comes from Amazon, because the details of the postal service’s deals with private shippers are considered proprietary and not made public.
A Good Deal?
USPS ships about 40 percent of Amazon’s packages. Amazon bulk-delivers packages to a USPS distribution center, and the Postal Service brings it to your door. USPS negotiates the discounted rate for that service with Amazon, as it does all other bulk shippers.
Trump Uses Louis Dejoy, Postmaster General To Manipulate The Postal Service To Disenfranchise Voters
Vote-by-Mail Fight Opens New Front For Democrats Against Trump
A pitched battle over the U.S. Postal Service and its ability to reliably deliver presidential election ballots during a pandemic has broken out on the eve of the parties’ high-profile conventions.
Democrats accuse President Donald Trump of sabotaging the agency to cripple vote-by-mail efforts, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi suspended the House’s summer recess to take up related legislation.
Meanwhile, Trump, who’s trailing challenger Joe Biden in polls, has claimed — without evidence — that widespread remote voting routinely leads to massive fraud, putting Republicans in a tough spot, given the popularity of the Postal Service.
“Universal mail-in voting is going to be catastrophic, it’s going to make our country a laughing stock all over the world,” Trump said on Saturday.
The Democrats’ scrutiny is focused on Louis DeJoy, the new postmaster general appointed by Trump, who recently launched a series of service cutbacks. The agency has also sent warnings to 46 states, saying it may not be able to deliver their ballots on time for the November election.
Two Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, Ted Lieu of California and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, wrote FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday seeking an investigation of whether DeJoy or the Postal Service’s Board of Governors had committed crimes.
Pelosi called DeJoy “a complicit crony” of Trump’s. “We see the devastating effects of the president’s campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters,” Pelosi said Sunday in an emailed message to her Democratic colleagues.
Trump said Monday in an interview on Fox News that DeJoy’s changes were aimed at fixing what he described as a long-term “disaster” in the service’s finances.
“This isn’t a Trump thing. This has been one of the disasters of the world, the way it’s been run,” Trump said. “What am I supposed to do, let it continue to be run badly?”
House Democrats have demanded that DeJoy testify at a hearing before the House Oversight Committee on Aug. 24. It’s unclear if he will appear. Postal Service officials didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment sent outside of normal business hours.
The issue is certain to be a major theme for Democrats as they kick off their party convention on Monday, an event that will play out virtually in living rooms across the country.
Prominent Democrats have raised concerns around voter suppression. Former President Barack Obama said that Trump was trying to “actively kneecap the Postal Service.” Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, who vied for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Trump thinks a lower turnout will help him win re-election.
Under DeJoy, who’s run the Postal Service since May, post office operating hours have been reduced and overtime work cut, which has delayed delivery of mail on certain routes. Recent media reports have pointed to the removal of mail sorting machines in various cities, as well as the removal of mailboxes from streets.
DeJoy, a former businessman and prominent donor to Republicans, has made no secret that he planned to cut costs at the Post Service, which has lost money for years.
The agency “remains on an unsustainable path and we will continue to focus on improving operational efficiency and pursuing other reforms in order to put the Postal Service on a trajectory for long-term financial stability,” he said in a statement in July.
Pelosi said she will set a vote this week on a bill by from Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney that would block the Postal Service from implementing changes from its operations procedures that were in effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The vote could be held on Saturday, according to a Democratic aide.
It’s possible that the risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus will keep millions of Americans at home through November’s balloting. Seniors, the nation’s most avid voters, are also those most likely to suffer serious complications, should they contract Covid-19. State officials, who actually run the polling, have made mail-in-ballots a cornerstone of their plans.
“We need to fund the Postal Service,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said on Fox News Sunday. “We need to root for its success, rather than the opposite.”
For his part, Trump has sought to sow doubt in the accuracy of mass mail-in-voting, even as he says he supports — and personally uses — standard absentee balloting. “Universal mail-in voting is going to be catastrophic,” Trump said on Saturday without offering evidence.
Told on CNN on Sunday that there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S., Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, responded that “there’s no evidence that there’s not, either.”
But there are signs that some Republicans are uncomfortable with attacking mail-in voting. On Sunday, Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican facing a tough re-election fight, echoed Pelosi’s call for Congress to act.
“The Senate should return this week to consider a COVID-19 package that includes the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act—a bill I introduced w/@SenFeinstein in July — which would provide USPS w/ up to $25 billion to cover losses or operational expenses resulting from COVID-19,” she tweeted.
More than 200 lawsuits have been filed in 43 states and the District of Columbia over electoral practices during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to one tally. Mail-in-voting rules varies widely by state, with some like California, Utah automatically planning to send voters a ballot in the mail. Oregon has done all-mail-in elections for decades.
Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo of California said in a statement on Sunday that DeJoy and Trump “are intentionally undermining the ability of the U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail-in ballots.” She urged her state’s attorney general to open up a criminal probe.
Meadows tweeted on Sunday that it was “nonsense” to say Trump was undercutting USPS. A former congressman from North Carolina, Meadows accused Democrats of playing politics by rejecting $10 billion for the agency as part of an economic stimulus package.
But that’s significantly less than the $25 billion that Democrats want for the agency as part of a coronavirus aid package. They also want an additional $3.6 billion in stimulus funding to go to states for costs associated with expanded mail-in and early in-person voting.
Even if the two sides reach an agreement on additional money, the Trump campaign is likely to still oppose widespread mail-in voting.
Steve Cortes, a Trump campaign adviser, said on “Fox News Sunday” that “no amount of money” would be enough to get the agency ready for universal mail-in-voting.
More Than Dozen U.S. States Expected To Sue Trump Administration Over Postal Cuts
More than a dozen states as early as this week are expected to sue the Trump administration over cuts at the United States Postal Service they say could delay mail-in ballots in the November elections, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said on Monday.
Frosh said anywhere between 15 to 20 Democratic attorneys general are reviewing legal arguments, and he expects that the states involved will join in one, or possibly several, lawsuits.
“We are talking with other AG offices and expecting to take action soon,” Frosh said.
Republican Trump, who is trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in opinion polls, said last week he was against Democratic efforts to include funds for the Postal Service and election infrastructure in coronavirus relief legislation because he wanted to limit mail-in voting during the pandemic. Twice as many people could vote by mail as did so in 2016 because of the pandemic, according to some estimates.
Democrats have cited reductions in overtime, restrictions on extra mail transportation trips and new mail sorting and delivery policies as changes that threaten to slow mail delivery of ballots and other critical mail such as medicines.
Trump on Monday denied that he was attempting to undermine the Postal Service’s ability to handle mail-in ballots.
“No, we’re not tampering,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “We want to make it run for less money, much better, always taking care of our postal workers.”
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, has asked Trump to postpone the operational changes until after the Nov. 3 elections. The post office is a “perennial drain on the Treasury,” he said in a letter. “But making the radical changes only weeks before early voting begins – however fiscally well founded – would place the solvency of the Post Office above the legitimacy of the government itself.”
It’s unclear whether Yost would join any legal action.
Frosh said that in Maryland, the service has pulled six sorting machines.
“They pulled four out in one location,” in the Democratic stronghold of Baltimore City, he said.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in an interview that it would be unconstitutional to physically bar someone from voting or block the roads so people could not get to polling stations.
“So, too, it’s illegal to intentionally defund the postal service or dismantle close to 700 mail sorting machines in big cities across the country or to remove blue mail boxes, which we’ve heard about,” Tong said.
Tong said he had been collecting evidence of mail delivery problems in Connecticut and that the office has been “flooded with complaints” about delays.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Monday she planned to sue over the cutbacks and called Trump’s attempt to “interfere” with postal operations an “authoritarian power grab.”
The Democratic-led House of Representatives will meet on Saturday to consider legislation barring changes to Postal Service levels that were in place on Jan. 1, 2020.
Postmaster To Suspend USPS Changes Until After Election
Louis DeJoy says agency won’t remove equipment or cut hours amid congressional scrutiny ahead of an expected surge in mail-in voting.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the U.S. Postal Service is suspending operational changes, like removing mail processing equipment and collection boxes, until after the November election, as the agency tries to reassure Americans that it can handle the anticipated surge in mail-in voting.
Mr. DeJoy also said the agency won’t change retail hours at post offices across the country or close any mail-sorting facilities. He said overtime hours will continue to be approved as needed to process mail.
The about-face comes as Mr. DeJoy and the Postal Service have come under heightened scrutiny since the Republican Party fundraiser and logistics executive took the role in June. He has implemented changes, like controlling overtime and reducing extra trips, which some postal-union representatives and customers said caused delays. Mr. DeJoy is set to testify before Congress this week.
The Postal Service also had moved to decommission some sorting machines and removed blue collection boxes in some states, initiatives that it said were part of the normal course of business but caused concerns that it would reduce capacity for handling election ballots.
“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” Mr. DeJoy said, noting that some of the efforts had predated his arrival at the agency in June.
“The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall,” he said in a press release. The agency also will expand its task force on election mail and have additional resources on standby starting Oct. 1 in case there is unforeseen demand.
Mr. DeJoy will appear before Republican-led Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday and before the House Oversight Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, next Monday.
House Democrats Set Vote On Bill To Bolster USPS
Measure would temporarily ban operational changes, top up funding amid battle over mail-in ballots.
House Democrats set a Saturday vote on a bill that would prohibit operational changes to the Postal Service until well after the election and give $25 billion in additional funding to the agency, which has become the focus of a political battle over expanded mail-in voting that Democrats favor amid the pandemic and President Trump has continued to disparage.
Democratic lawmakers have also called the leaders of the U.S. Postal Service to testify before Congress next Monday about their concerns over mail delays and cost-cutting moves being made by Louis DeJoy, the new postmaster general and a major Republican donor, amid persistent budget shortfalls. Mr. DeJoy and Robert Duncan, chairman of the Postal Service board of governors, said they would attend.
The Postal Service has said it can’t promise to deliver all ballots in time to be counted if they are mailed close to Election Day and has urged election officials and voters not to leave mail-in balloting until the last minute. The agency and some election officials say some states allow voters to request absentee ballots so late that it is difficult to guarantee their delivery in time to be counted.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) told Democrats in a letter that she is bringing lawmakers back to Washington from their August recess, saying Mr. Trump is on a campaign to “sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters,” citing operational changes at the Postal Service that postal-union representatives and some customers say have delayed mail.
The legislation appears unlikely to be taken up by the Senate, which is on recess until September. “The Postal Service is going to be just fine,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) told reporters on Monday. “We’re going to make sure that the ability to function going into the election is not adversely affected.”
Senate Republicans are preparing to unveil in the next 24 hours a pared-down coronavirus aid package expected to cost less than $1 trillion, GOP aides said late Monday. The proposal will include $10 billion for the Postal Service, $300 in weekly federal unemployment benefits through late December, additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, liability protections, $29 billion in health funding, including testing and vaccine costs, and education funding, aides said.
Senate Republicans, eager to have a bill they could vote on, developed the plan’s outlines during the conference calls they held with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows last week, a GOP aide said.
The lower price tag of the so-called “skinny” bill is expected to draw more support among Senate Republicans, who have been divided over whether more coronavirus funding is needed. Democrats are likely to oppose it as insufficient.
On Fox News Monday morning, Mr. Trump called Mr. DeJoy, a Trump campaign donor and former logistics-company executive who took over as postmaster general in June, a “very good business guy.” Mr. Trump says he opposes mailing out ballots to all voters, a process he says would invite fraud and errors, but is fine with individual voters being allowed to request a mailed ballot in advance of the election.
During a campaign event in Minnesota on Monday, Mr. Trump railed against mail-in ballots, distinguishing them from absentee ballots, which he himself uses in Florida. The state of Florida, however, calls its process vote-by-mail, not absentee.
“Absentee ballots are good. You send for the ballot, you’re not going to be in your state, and you get it back and you do something…. It’s a process, you have to work for it a little bit,” he said. “But these ballots they want to send them out in some states…they want to just have millions of ballots.”
Most states will allow voters to cast a mailed ballot even if they aren’t going to be out of town in November. A smaller number of states require that voters meet specific criteria to vote absentee.
Researchers haven’t found evidence of widespread fraud linked to by-mail ballots, although some isolated cases have been tied to the practice. A different problem is that some states and counties have limited staffing and technology to deal with a surge of mailed ballots, which created logistical problems for some voters during recent primaries in New York and elsewhere.
The House bill, introduced by Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.), prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or service levels it had in place on Jan.1 until the end of the Covid-19 emergency or Jan. 1, 2021, whichever comes later.
The bill forbids the closure or consolidation of any post office or reduction of facility hours, ending overtime pay for workers, or any other measure that would prevent the Postal Service from meeting its service standards, delay mail or increase the volume of undelivered mail.
Democrats are also adding $25 billion for the Postal Service to the legislation, according to a Democratic aide. That is the amount the Postal Service’s board of governors requested in April to cover operating costs and extra expenses incurred during the pandemic.
Republicans objected to the House holding a vote on such legislation before hearing from Messrs. DeJoy and Duncan about Postal Service operations.
“Generally, I would think we would want to make sure what we were going to do was going to fix the problem,” said Rep. Fred Keller (R., Pa.), a member of the Oversight panel. “It’s almost like ready, fire, aim.”
Mr. DeJoy has moved to curtail costs since taking over as postmaster general, including having trucks leave on time and limiting overtime by targeting what senior postal officials have called unnecessary costs and lateness.
His efforts have come amid some other changes that the Postal Service said were routine and not tied to Mr. DeJoy’s arrival, like planning the removal of some mail-sorting machines or mailboxes, which the Postal Service said was in response to declining mail volumes. Amid the recent outcry, Postal Service spokeswoman Kimberly Frum said the agency would postpone routine removal from streets of seldom-used mailboxes for 90 days.
Earlier this month, Mr. DeJoy told a Postal Service board of governors meeting that the agency “has ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on time in accordance with our delivery standards.”
A lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan federal court contests that. Several Democratic politicians and other voters sued Mr. Trump, the U.S. Postal Service and Mr. DeJoy to ensure the agency has sufficient funding. “President Donald J. Trump and his newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have set about to ensure USPS cannot reliably deliver election mail,” the plaintiffs argued in the filing.
Asked about the lawsuit, White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews said: “Politically motivated lawsuits are not rooted in giving Americans the power of the vote.”
A spokesperson for the USPS didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Republicans have largely dismissed Democrats’ concerns over mail-in voting, but some Republican lawmakers have raised concerns over postal-service delays.
“The Democrats’ wild and baseless conspiracy theory about the United States Postal Service is irresponsible and only undermines the American people’s faith in the integrity of the election and our institutions,” Rep. James Comer (R., Ky.), the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said Monday.
Still, Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) on Sunday evening called for the Senate to reconvene to consider her bill—co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.)—that would provide the Postal Service with up to $25 billion.
The Postal Service faces long-running financial problems due to legislative requirements, including that it prefund retiree medical benefits. Its other challenges include a steep decline in first-class mail, its most profitable service, amid the growth of digital communication. But it has said in financial filings that it has enough liquidity to fund operations through at least August 2021. The Postal Service reached an agreement for a $10 billion loan from the Treasury Department in July.
The Postal Service has said its financial condition won’t affect its ability to process and deliver election mail. The agency has recommended that voters mail back their ballots no later than a week before their state’s due date, but many election officials recommend doing so even earlier if possible.
Usps Postmaster General Louis Dejoy Will Appear In A Public Service Announcement Telling Americans That Mail-In Voting Is Safe, Countering The False Claim Trump Has Been Pushing For Years
Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general for the US Postal Service, will be featured in a public service announcement assuring Americans that voting by mail is safe, CNN reported on Wednesday.
It is not yet clear what the exact language of the PSA will be, but asserting that mail-in voting is safe would directly contradict President Donald Trump’s false claim that voters mailing in their ballots encourages fraud.
The USPS and DeJoy have been criticized for cost-cutting measures taken in recent weeks, like canceling overtime for mail carriers, cutting post office hours and removing some mail-sorting machines.
The measures have stirred suspicions about DeJoy, a Republican donor, ahead of the November presidential election.
US Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will be featured in a public service announcement designed to assure Americans that voting by mail is safe, CNN reported on Wednesday.
It is not yet clear what the exact language of the PSA will be, but asserting that mail-in voting is safe would directly contradict President Donald Trump’s false claim that voters mailing in their ballots encourages fraud.
DeJoy has been under scrutiny in recent weeks because of several cost-cutting measures he implemented at the postal service, including removing hundreds of high-volume mail-sorting machines across the country.
Other changes include the removal of some mail collection boxes, canceling overtime for mail carriers, and cutting post office hours. All of this has happened while Trump has publicly attacked the postal service and mail-in voting on an almost-daily basis. The moves have stirred suspicions that Trump is trying to sabotage mail-in-voting ahead of the November presidential election.
Earlier this week, prominent Democrats in the House and Senate demanded DeJoy and other USPS officials testify before the House Oversight Committee on August 24 at an “urgent” hearing, Business Insider reported.
“The hearing will examine the sweeping operational and organizational changes at the Postal Service that experts warn could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming November elections,” the Sunday statement read.
There’s been growing outrage over USPS delays and widespread concern about the upcoming election. The USPS last month sent letters to 46 states and Washington DC warning that they might not be able to deliver mail-in-ballots in time to be counted, potentially disenfranchising thousands of voters if they don’t request their ballots early enough.
On Tuesday, The postmaster-general reversed some of the cost-cutting measures and said the agency would curb the cost-cutting measures until after the election, The Washington Post reported.
Trump has defended the postmaster but also attempted to distance himself from him over the weekend, Business Insider reported.
“I don’t know what he’s doing,” Trump said. “I can only tell you he’s a very smart man,” and said DeJoy “wants to make the post office great again.”
A CNN poll found that 34% of registered voters say they prefer to vote by mail in the upcoming election. However, 66% of Trump supporters said they’d prefer to vote in person, compared to 53% of voters who would rather vote by mail for the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Defends Changes Before Senate Committee
Postal Service can handle surge in mail-in ballots, official says, ‘in some cases ahead of first-class mail’.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended his efforts to make the Postal Service run more efficiently and said the mail agency could handle an expected surge in mailed ballots this fall amid concerns, particularly from Democrats, that his actions would interfere with the presidential election.
Mr. DeJoy, who has been at the center of controversy over efforts to curtail costs at the Postal Service, appeared Friday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, controlled by Republicans.
Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), who said he votes every year by absentee ballot, asked Mr. DeJoy if he supported voting by mail. “I think the American public should be able to vote by mail,” Mr. DeJoy said. “We will deploy processes and procedures that advance any election mail, in some cases ahead of first-class mail,” he added.
Mr. DeJoy testified that he had never spoken to President Trump about the Postal Service, other than in receiving his congratulations on becoming postmaster general.
In opening remarks, Mr. DeJoy urged Congress “to enact legislation that would provide the Postal Service with financial relief to account for the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on our financial condition.”
“Legislative actions have been discussed and debated for years, but no action has been taken,” he said, referring to long-running debates over the mail agency’s operations, while adding that the Postal Service must do its part to adapt to “the realities of our marketplace.”
Mr. DeJoy, a former logistics-company executive and Republican Party donor, had sought operational changes, such as reducing extra delivery trips, which postal-union representatives have blamed for delaying deliveries. Complaints about delays have spilled over into concerns about the election, in which mail-in voting is expected to hit historic highs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats said Mr. DeJoy had been slow to respond to inquiries about the delays, which they said harmed businesses and individuals. Republicans largely defended Mr. DeJoy’s actions as financially responsible but also pressed him to address concerns about delays and make other commitments not to hamper service.
“I am concerned about the delays that we have seen in Ohio and elsewhere,” said Mr. Portman, adding he had heard from a number of veterans who said they weren’t able to get their medication.
Sen. Gary Peters (D., Mich.) said the delays led one constituent’s daughter who gets her epilepsy medication through the mail, “to ration what few pills she had left. As a result [she] suffered seizures and was transported to a hospital.”
Amid public outcry, Mr. DeJoy said this week that the Postal Service would suspend some operational changes, such as removal of mail-processing equipment and collection boxes, until after the election. Democrats say the move left unanswered questions about specifically which changes will be deferred and want him to commit to reversing changes already made.
Mr. DeJoy said the Postal Service has removed around 35,000 collection boxes over the past decade. “I had no idea” that process was under way, he said, but decided to pause it until after the election in response to the public outcry. He said the Postal Service routinely reviews where collection boxes are needed and where to place new ones.
Mr. DeJoy said there was no intention to bring back any mail-sorting machines that have been removed. “They’re not needed,” he said in response to a question from Mr. Peters.
The Postal Service says it has ample capacity to handle election mail this fall but has urged voters to mail in ballots at least a week before their state’s due date, if not earlier.
Democrats have accused Mr. DeJoy—who was selected by the bipartisan-by-statute Postal Service Board of Governors, all appointed by Mr. Trump, and took office in June—of working with the president to hamper mail-in voting. Mr. DeJoy has rejected such accusations.
The president has said adopting universal mail-in voting in response to the coronavirus raises the prospect of fraud and would favor the Democrats. Research isn’t definitive on whether the practice, which some states have used in previous federal elections, benefits one party more. Studies haven’t found evidence of widespread fraud connected to mail-in voting despite isolated cases.
The House is scheduled to convene Saturday to vote on a bill that would prohibit operational changes to the Postal Service until well after the election and give the agency $25 billion in additional funding. On Monday, the Democratic-led House Oversight and Reform Committee is scheduled to question Mr. DeJoy and Robert Duncan, chairman of the agency’s board of governors.
Mr. DeJoy disputed that he has curtailed overtime. He said overtime has run at a rate of roughly 13% both before and after he took over as postmaster general.
While Mr. DeJoy took over as postmaster general in June, the Postal Service was already facing complaints about package delays, with more people shopping online as the pandemic took hold in the U.S. earlier this year, and as the Postal Service faced staffing problems due to Covid-19 outbreaks.
The parcel-delivery issues persisted through the summer, prompting e-commerce marketplace eBay Inc. last week to tell sellers the company was “working on other affordable, more reliable delivery options.”
In recent weeks, postal-worker unions said policies implemented under Mr. DeJoy, such as limiting extra mail-transportation runs, have slowed delivery of mail and packages, including prescriptions, at a time when many Americans are more dependent on those services because of the pandemic.
Some cost-saving efforts predated Mr. DeJoy’s arrival in June, the Postal Service has said, including what it called routine decommissioning of underused mail-sorting equipment and mail-collection boxes. The agency’s inspector general recommended some such cost-reducing measures in studies conducted before Mr. DeJoy took the role.
Mail volume is down and package volume is growing, Mr. DeJoy said Friday when asked by Sen Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) about the removal of mail-sorting equipment. “We really are moving these machines out to make room to process packages.”
Mr. DeJoy said changes to the transportation schedule were aimed at making the trucks run on time. “FedEx, UPS, everybody runs their trucks on time. That’s what glues the whole network together.” He said production processing at the Postal Service’s plants “is not fully aligned with this established schedule…so we had some delays in the mail.”
Mr. DeJoy said the shifts would improve on-time delivery “once we get all the mail on those trucks.” The effort to get trucks out on time won’t be deferred until after the election, a Postal Service spokesman clarified Friday.
The Postal Service faces long-running financial problems, which stem from both legislative requirements and seismic changes to its business over the past two decades. A 2006 law, among other things, required that the Postal Service prefund retiree medical benefits.
The pandemic has further strained the agency’s finances. First-class and marketing mail volumes have fallen sharply, while less-profitable parcel volumes soared under heavy e-commerce demand during coronavirus lockdowns.
The Postal Service reached an agreement for a $10 billion loan from the Treasury Department in July. The agency hasn’t used the loan so far, a spokesman said Friday. “You need to know how you’re going to pay it back,” Mr. DeJoy said, when asked about it by Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.).
The Postal Service handled 49.9% more packages in the three months ended June 30 than it did in the same period last year, a jump that “drove substantial increases in work-hour and operating expenses,” the Postal Service said in its most recent earnings statement.
The e-commerce-propelled growth in package revenue, which jumped 53.6% in the quarter to $8.3 billion, isn’t expected over the long term to make up for “the losses in mail service revenue caused by Covid-19,” the agency said.
Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) asked Mr. DeJoy what he thought about moving from six-day-a-week delivery to five days or fewer in some rural areas, a change the senator said could save the Postal Service between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.
Mr. DeJoy said he had considered that but found other scheduling changes more efficient.
“I think the six-day delivery—the connection that the postal letter carrier has with the American people that gives us this highly trusted brand, and where the economy is going in the future—I think that is probably our biggest strength to capitalize on,” he said.
Embattled Postal Leader Is Trump Donor With Deep GOP Ties
Louis DeJoy, the embattled leader of the U.S. Postal Service, is the first postmaster general in nearly two decades who is not a career postal employee. That doesn’t mean he’s unfamiliar with the agency.
The wealthy Republican donor owned a logistics business that was a longtime Postal Service contractor, and he has significant financial stakes in companies that do business or compete with the agency. That has led critics to question whether he has conflicts of interest, something DeJoy is almost certain to be asked about during two days of testimony beginning Friday before congressional committees.
DeJoy also has come under scrutiny for policies that have slowed mail deliveries and raised fears of chaos in the November presidential election.
“All these so-called cuts that happened in the middle of the night, it’s hard to understand how the postmaster general could believe he could do this and nobody would find out,” said S. David Fineman, a former chairman and member of the agency’s board of governors.
DeJoy, 63, took over June and pledged an overhaul. The Postal Service is struggling financially under a decline in mail volume, the coronavirus pandemic and a congressional requirement to fund in advance its retiree health care benefits. Democrats say the process that led to his appointment was opaque and they have questioned whether political patronage was involved.
DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, have a history of donating to conservative causes and Republican candidates, including $1.2 million to President Donald Trump’s election efforts. DeJoy is on the board of The Fund for American Studies, a Washington nonprofit dedicated to “the ideas of liberty, limited government and free markets,” to which his family’s charitable foundation has contributed more than $350,000.
Until he took over the Postal Service, he was the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.
DeJoy also has benefited from government contracts.
He built New Breed Logistics, a small New York shipping company he inherited from his father, into a national operator that has collected more than $120 million through government contracts from the mid-1990s until he sold the business for $615 million in 2014, according to an Associated Press review of federal spending data. The company contracted with the post office.
He holds significant financial stakes in companies that both do business and compete with the Postal Service, something critics argue could present a conflict of interest.
In a statement, the Postal Service said DeJoy has made all required financial disclosures but that he might have to divest some holdings if conflicts arise.
“I take my ethical obligations seriously, and I have done what is necessary to ensure that I am and will remain in compliance with those obligations,” DeJoy said.
After New Breed Logistics merged with XPO Logistics, DeJoy continued to lead a subsidiary of the international conglomerate until he retired in 2015. He served on XPO’s board until 2018 and currently has holdings in the company valued as high as $75 million, with stock options that are potentially worth millions more. Since the 2014 merger, XPO has lined up more than $500 million in federal work, which continues to this day, records show.
DeJoy’s financial disclosure shows he also has between $7 million and $35 million invested in the private equity firm,Warburg Pincus, which has holdings in both Postal Service contractors and its competitors.
DeJoy and his family made inroads to elite GOP circles during the presidency of George W. Bush.
His wife was a “ranger” for Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, a designation reserved for donors who tapped their personal and professional networks to bundle more than $200,000 in contributions.
Around the same time, New Breed Logistics’ receipt of federal contracts picked up. Between 2003 and 2009, the company was awarded contracts worth $59 million, according to federal spending data. Bush appointed Wos to serve as ambassador to Estonia, the kind of diplomatic reward that presidents commonly bestow on top donors. Currently, she is Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Canada.
The connections DeJoy and his wife have made with Republican elected officials have been cultivated for years, particularly in North Carolina.
Their family’s nonprofit has doled out millions to charities and conservative groups, including the Jesse Helms Center, which was created to promote causes advocated by the late North Carolina senator, who had a long history of making racist and homophobic remarks.
Wos, who is a physician, was appointed to lead North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services by then-Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, whose candidacy benefited from the family’s donations. She left the agency in 2015 after a rocky tenure.
As postmaster general, DeJoy has put in place or proposed operational changes that have disrupted deliveries and set off legal challenges from more than 20 states. Lawmakers pressed DeJoy for the rationale behind his actions and repeatedly complained that he has not being forthcoming about his policies, leading the agency’s inspector general to open an inquiry.
At the same time, Trump has acknowledged that he is blocking an emergency aid package for the Postal Service to make it more difficult for the agency to process mail-in ballots.
The White House has moved to calm tensions. Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, has said mail processing machines won’t be decommissioned between now and Election Day, Nov. 3, and stressed that Trump has had no say in any operational decisions at the agency.
In an abrupt reversal earlier this week, DeJoy released a statement that said he would “suspend” several initiatives until after the fall vote “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.”
DeJoy said he would postpone the removal of mail-processing machines, while making no mention of equipment that has already been taken offline because of declines in mail volume. House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi, D-Calif., later said DeJoy told her that he has no intention of replacing the decommissioned sorting machines. A postal union spokesman said the machines were set to be taken out of service before DeJoy took over the agency.
The postmaster general also said he was pausing the removal of collection boxes, a step already announced by a postal spokeswoman who said the measure is routine and based on mail density. DeJoy added that no mail processing facilities will be closed and said the agency has not eliminated overtime.
New York Attorney General Sues To Stop Changes At Postal Service
Lawsuit is third filed by Democratic-led states ahead of election to block changes they say threaten significant mail delays.
The New York attorney general filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block the Trump administration from disrupting the operations of the U.S. Postal Service, joining other Democratic-led states and lawmakers in pressuring the federal agency to maintain services ahead of the November election.
The suit, which names President Trump, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the Postal Service as defendants, follows changes made by Mr. DeJoy at the struggling agency that postal-union representatives and customers have said substantially slowed mail delivery around the country.
The Postal Service has become the focus of a tense political battle over expanded mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Trump has been vocal in his opposition to voting by mail. In a tweet last month, Mr. Trump wrote that “Republicans, in particular, cannot let this happen!”
Democrats, who favor the method amid the pandemic, worry the recent changes by Mr. DeJoy, a major Trump campaign donor, will interfere with the election.
The lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, alleges that the changes were a thinly veiled attempt to advance Mr. Trump’s political agenda. Ms. James has filed a number of lawsuits against the Trump administration’s policies.
A central plank of her 2018 election campaign was a pledge to thwart the administration’s policies, many of which she views as harmful to the state.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A Postal Service spokesman referred to Mr. DeJoy’s recent congressional testimony.
Mr. DeJoy told a Senate committee Friday he had never spoken to Mr. Trump about the agency, other than in receiving his congratulations on becoming postmaster general this spring.
Mr. DeJoy also defended his changes to the Postal Service. The former logistics executive quickly jump-started a cost-cutting overhaul of postal operations after he was appointed. The mail agency faces both longstanding financial problems and fresh challenges caused by the pandemic, which has increased costs amid a decrease in mail volume.
Meanwhile, an unprecedented number of voters cast mail-in ballots in state primary elections earlier this year as new cases of coronavirus were surging across the country, and states are preparing for another influx of such ballots in November.
The Democratic-led U.S. House took action to help the agency on Saturday, passing legislation to prevent Postal Service cutbacks at least through January and to provide it with $25 billion in additional funding. The bill has an uncertain future in the Republican-led Senate.
Under Mr. DeJoy’s leadership, the lawsuit alleges, the Postal Service has since June reversed decades-old policy “that were mission critical to the timely delivery of mail,” prompting widespread concerns about its ability to effectively deliver a record number of mailed votes.
Mr. DeJoy has said the Postal Service would suspend operational changes, such as removal of mail-processing equipment and collection boxes, until after the election, calling the timely delivery of the nation’s election mail a “sacred duty.”
The U.S Postal Service delivers 48% of the world’s mail and delivered 143 billion pieces of mail to 160 million addresses in fiscal 2019, according to court documents.
New York expects the number of voters who will cast absentee ballots this year to be at least 10 times greater than those who voted by mail in 2016. The state has already seen vote-count chaos after thousands of absentee ballots from the Democratic primaries in June were first invalidated and then counted weeks later.
Tuesday’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was joined by New Jersey, Hawaii, San Francisco and New York City. It is the third suit filed this month by state attorneys general over Postal Service changes.
Trump Backs Probe of Postmaster General’s Fundraising
President says Louis DeJoy is ‘very respected’ but should be removed if investigations find he broke the law.
President Trump said Monday he would support an investigation into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s fundraising practices, after employees of his former business said they felt pressured by Mr. DeJoy to make campaign contributions for which he later reimbursed them.
Asked at a news conference about the allegations in a report by The Washington Post, Mr. Trump said, “I don’t know too much about it.”
Pressed by a reporter on whether he would support an investigation, he said, “Sure, sure. Let the investigations go, but he’s a very respected man.” If the investigation proved Mr. DeJoy committed a crime, the president said he would support his dismissal.
The Washington Post on Saturday reported that five employees of Mr. DeJoy’s former business said they had been urged by Mr. DeJoy or his aides to make campaign donations or attend fundraisers he was hosting. Some of them said Mr. DeJoy subsequently arranged bonus payments to those employees, essentially reimbursing them for all or part of their donations.
Federal election laws ban the practice of reimbursing employees for donations to evade limits on campaign contributions, known as a straw-donor scheme.
A spokesman for Mr. DeJoy said in a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal on Sunday that Mr. DeJoy was never notified by the employees that they might have felt pressured, and that Mr. DeJoy believes all campaign fundraising laws and regulations should be followed.
The Journal hasn’t confirmed the allegations by employees cited in The Washington Post report.
Mr. DeJoy, a Trump donor and GOP fundraiser, was named to lead the U.S. Postal Service this spring by the Postal Service Board of Governors, whose members were appointed by the president.
He has since come under intense scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers, who have accused him of working with Mr. Trump to interfere in the November election, in which a historic number of voters are expected to cast ballots by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Trump has frequently criticized efforts to expand mail-in voting.
Mr. DeJoy said in August that the Postal Service would suspend operational changes that had alarmed lawmakers, such as removing mail-processing equipment and collection boxes, until after the November election. He has rejected the notion he is trying to hurt the Postal Service.
Judge Blasts DeJoy’s ‘Intentional’ Bid To Disrupt Election
The judge who ordered a nationwide halt to operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service said it was “easy to conclude” that the effort by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was intended to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of the upcoming election.
“At the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement,” U.S. District Court Chief Judge Stanley A. Bastian said in a ruling Thursday in Yakima, Washington. “DeJoy’s actions fly in the face of Congress’s intent to insulate the management of the Postal Service from partisan politics and political influence.”
The injunction — the first issued over the USPS changes — comes as state election officials continue to urge voters to request absentee ballots as soon as possible in light of reports of widespread USPS operational delays. Democrats and Republicans are also battling in courts across the U.S. over deadlines for accepting mail-in ballots, with some arguing the USPS delays justify extending deadlines to several days after Election Day.
The ruling bars the USPS from instructing carriers to leave mail behind for processing or later delivery. It also forces the USPS to stop telling mail carriers or delivery truck drivers to leave at set times “regardless of whether the mail is actually ready.”
More than a dozen states sought the injunction in Washington, arguing that DeJoy, a longtime Republican donor, implemented the changes to delay delivery of ballots and undermine confidence in election results.
The ruling Thursday singled out President Donald Trump’s “highly partisan” tweets about the USPS and mail-in voting, tying his constant criticism to the postal agency’s disruptive changes. And the judge balked at the USPS’s “remarkable” claim in court that there hasn’t been a change in the treatment of election mail.
“If there ever were a mandate for the need of a nationwide injunction, it is this case,” the judge wrote.
Lee Moak, Election Mail Committee Chair at the USPS Board of Governors, rejected the judge’s finding.
“Any suggestion that there is a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service is completely and utterly without merit,” he said.
But the judge pointed to the timing of DeJoy’s “transformational” and long-lasting changes during a global pandemic and in the middle of a fraught election. The judge also cited lawsuits filed by by the Republican National Committee and Trump’s re-election campaign that aimed to block state efforts to bypass the Postal Service by using ballot drop boxes.
Bastian said the argument that the changes are part of an “intentional effort” to undermine the election are further backed by the fact that 72% of the decommissioned high speed mail sorting machines that were located in counties where Hillary Clinton got the most votes in 2016.
DeJoy had previously assured Congress that he would halt some of the major changes he put in motion at the USPS until after the Nov. 3 election to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.” But that was little comfort to Democratic state officials who said a court order was necessary to prevent further damage to USPS services and efficiency.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, whose state joined the Washington suit, said the USPS is “being used as a tool of partisan politics.”
The judge “found it very persuasive that it was a deliberate and intentional attempt to undermine the Postal Service and to stop it from delivering mail in a timely manner,” he said.
USPS spokesperson Dave Partenheimer said the postal service is exploring its legal options.
“There should be no doubt that the Postal Service is ready and committed to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives,” he said. “Our number one priority is to deliver election mail on-time.”
During a hearing earlier Thursday, the judge interrupted a presentation by the states to point out that he’d personally received a post card from the USPS saying there would likely be delays with mail-in voting.
“Can the court take judicial notice that I’m personally being warned by the defendant that my ballots may be delayed, my family’s ballots may be delayed?” Bastian asked.
Busted: Barr Personally Briefed Trump on DOJ Investigation Into 9 Discarded Ballots
Attorney General Bill Barr personally briefed President Donald Trump about nine ballots that were found discarded in Pennsylvania.
President Trump first revealed the investigation onto the small number of discarded ballots in an interview with Fox News Radio on Thursday. He later repeated and embellished his claims when talking with reporters later that day.
ABC News, which first reported Barr’s extreme involvement with the case and briefing the president, noted that Trump, “without evidence, argued that it bolsters his baseless claims of widespread fraud in mail-in voting.”
Trump used the information from the attorney general to spread more false allegations about by-mail voting being unsafe.
The Justice Dept. Thursday afternoon issued a press release claiming all nine were ballots cast for Trump. It later deleted that document and published a new one stating 7 of the 9 indicated votes for the president, and two were sealed and the contents unknown.
It is generally not regular practice for an attorney general to brief a president about a small situation. It is almost unheard of for the DOJ to issue a press release or comment on an investigation in progress, especially to reveal major details about the case.
“They were Trump ballots — eight ballots in an office yesterday in — but in a certain state and they were — they had Trump written on it, and they were thrown in a garbage can. This is what’s going to happen,” Trump told Fox News Radio. “This is what’s going to happen, and we’re investigating that.”
He later told reporters, “You know they found I understand eight ballots in a wastepaper basket in some location, they found it was reported in one of the newspapers that they found a lot of ballots in a river. They throw them out if they have the name ‘Trump’ on it I guess,” the President claimed.
“Okay, well they still found them in a river whether they had a name on it or not but the other ones had the Trump name on it. And they were thrown into a wastepaper basket.
NCRM found no reports of ballots being found in a river.
NBC News on Thursday noted that “the White House appeared to have a coordinated rollout of the information coming from the Justice Department.”
Several Lawmakers Denied Access To Postal Facilities
Democrats said visits are needed to ensure mail-in ballot safety; GOP calls effort political stunt.
Efforts by some members of Congress to observe firsthand how mail is being processed at large facilities in the final weeks of the election have been blocked—a policy departure by the U.S. Postal Service for visits that were once routinely approved, the lawmakers said.
It’s unclear how many lawmakers have sought access to postal plants, but at least five, all Democrats, said they’d received inconsistent explanations for the denials.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat, visited a large mail-processing plant in Kearny, N.J., on Monday, according to his staff, after being refused entry last month. He told the Postal Service on Sunday that he was coming.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week, Mr. Pascrell said he wanted to see if the plant is keeping up with its workload, including handling mail-in ballots. He said that he and two other members of the New Jersey congressional delegation never got beyond the lobby.
Mr. Pascrell said that right before the 2018 midterm election, he toured that same facility without incident or objection.
The congressman said he was told they couldn’t enter nonpublic areas of postal facilities within 45 days of an election out of security concerns and because it might violate the Hatch Act, a federal law that prohibits executive branch employees such as postal employees from engaging in partisan political activity. The election is 14 days away.
“These are phony-baloney excuses. It’s not like I’m trying to get into Area 51 or something,” said Mr. Pascrell, referring to the high-security Air Force site in the Nevada desert.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which investigates alleged Hatch Act violations, issued guidance in 2018 that federal buildings shouldn’t be used for campaign events, but said the act didn’t prevent lawmakers from “visiting federal facilities for an official purpose, to include receiving briefings, tours, or other official information.”
In a statement, the Postal Service said its headquarters staff arranged more than 60 congressional tours during the first nine months of the year, most of them since June. It said the number was “noteworthy when considered against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It said it has an “ongoing commitment to transparency and oversight” and has sent nearly 2,000 letters to members of Congress this year, responding to questions.
“The Postal Service has been, and will continue to be, responsive to the Congress’s legislative needs in providing information on postal matters, while also protecting our legitimate institutional prerogatives,” said the Postal Service statement.
Rep. James Comer, a Kentucky Republican and ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which oversees the USPS, said in a hearing in August that Democrats were whipping up baseless fears about the Postal Service as a “political stunt” to hurt Republicans at the polls. He didn’t respond to a request for additional comment.
Last month, in a letter to the postmaster general, Mr. Comer suggested the Postal Service invite monitors from both political parties to watch election mail being processed because, he said, most postal workers are members of “highly partisan” labor unions—something union officials say is incorrect.
There has been an increase in congressional interest, particularly among Democrats, in the USPS since Louis DeJoy, a former logistics executive and Republican Party donor, became postmaster general.
Shortly thereafter, the Postal Service initiated changes in work rules and ordered the removal of hundreds of mail-processing machines. On-time mail-delivery fell and hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest USPS data.
The Postal Service has said it is working hard to increase on-time delivery and that Mr. DeJoy has directed workers not to remove any more mail-processing machines until after the election. Mr. DeJoy didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The Postal Service attracted unwanted attention last summer after it gave Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, a tour of a postal facility in San Antonio. Right after his visit, a union official told local news reporters that thousands of pieces of delayed mail had been hidden and that inoperable mail-processing equipment had been gussied up to appear functional. Mr. Castro requested an investigation by the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat who sits on the House oversight committee, said she unsuccessfully sought permission to visit mail facilities in Florida in early September, before the 45-day blackout period claimed by the Postal Service in observance of the Hatch Act. She’d gotten reports that pallets of mail were piling up.
A Postal Service employee said postal police were instructed to block the tour because Ms. Schultz was supposed to take a special training course first, which wasn’t a requirement previously. Ms. Schultz’s staff said there had been some vague mention about some new requirement when she was denied access but what it was wasn’t clear.
In a written statement, Ms. Schultz said it was wrong for the agency to erect a “bogus training course and Hatch Act hurdles” and that she fears a cherished institution is being used as a “partisan cudgel.”
Rep. Jared Huffman, a California Democrat, said he tried to make a routine visit last month to a post office in Eureka, Calif., and was refused due to the Hatch Act. He said he’d had “all sorts of previous meetings and tours and it’s never been an issue.”
USPS Still Not Sorting Election Mail Fast Enough, States Say
The U.S. Postal Service still isn’t processing election mail on time, even after being ordered by judges to halt disruptive changes like banning worker overtime and late delivery trips, Pennsylvania’s attorney general told a judge.
USPS data show the postal agency’s performance levels are down more than 5% from where they were before the changes took effect in July and “continue to be lower than at any point in 2020,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a federal court filing Monday in Philadelphia.
“Despite being subject to multiple injunctions, defendants have not improved their service performance,” said Shapiro, who has asked U.S. District Judge Gerald Austin McHugh to appoint an independent monitor to ensure the USPS abides by court orders.
Democrats have accused Postmaster General Louis DeJoy of undermining the USPS just as the nation is expecting a record surge in use of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic. Several judges have issued injunctions, including one who said it was “easy to conclude” that DeJoy’s changes were intended to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election.
According to Shapiro, who’s leading one of three multistate suits, USPS compliance with rules about election-mail processing and daily delivery is supposed to be at 100%. But USPS data shows compliance is as low as 85% in one division and some units aren’t reporting figures at all, he said.
Shapiro also said that late and extra trips by USPS mail carriers, which are supposed to be reinstated under the injunction, have barely nudged up and are nowhere near pre-July levels, suggesting more could be done to improve performance.
The USPS responded in a letter to the court on Tuesday that it was complying with the court order.
“The preliminary injunction does not speak to service performance levels, or require USPS to guarantee a certain aggregate number of late or extra trips, but rather requires USPS to maintain and convey certain specific operational policies,” the postal agency said.
The USPS also said that failures by some units to report data were isolated, and that service is improving in some regions. The lagging performance doesn’t justify appointing a monitor, the agency said, adding that it needs to focus on delivering millions of ballots that are already being sent.
“USPS asks that it be allowed to perform its duty in this important period, rather than continuing to litigate unnecessary disputes before this court,” the postal agency said.
Delivery of First Class mail — the type of service used for ballots — continues to lag in some cities, including in battleground states Michigan and Pennsylvania. For instance, only around 80% of First Class mail was delivered on time in Philadelphia in early October, according to USPS data filed with the court. In Detroit, the figure was about 71%.
On-time delivery rates below 95% risk delaying ballots, former Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman said at an Oct. 15 press conference.
“Once you start slipping below that, then given the volume of absentee ballots, you’re starting to look at a significant number of votes that may not be counted if they are sent too close to the election,” Stroman said.
Postal workers are coping with a deluge of campaign mail and ballots alongside the usual mail, said Trina Wynn, president of Local 152 of the American Postal Workers Union, in New Castle, Delaware.
“We are struggling,” Wynn said in an interview.
States Lose Fight To Get USPS Outside Monitor For Election Mail
States that claim changes by the U.S. Postal Service will threaten mail-in voting failed again to get an independent monitor appointed to observe the agency’s compliance with a court order.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Austin McHugh in Philadelphia on Wednesday denied a request from Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, to assign a former USPS inspector general to make sure the postal service complies with a national injunction against certain operational changes, including a ban on late-delivery trips.
McHugh, who in September issued one of several nationwide injunctions against the USPS changes, said it’s too close to the Nov. 3 election for an outside monitor to be helpful. He cited a judge in another case who denied a similar request for the same reason.
Several judges have issued injunctions against USPS, including one who said it was “easy to conclude” that changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a longtime Republican donor, were intended to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election.
Shapiro, leading a group of six states, argued this week that a monitor was urgently needed because the USPS still hadn’t returned to the level of delivery performance from before the changes were implemented over the summer, with delays particularly pronounced in urban areas of swing states.
USPS Ordered To Restore High-Speed Machines For Election Mail
A federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to restore high-speed mail-sorting machines at any facilities that are unable to process First Class election mail quickly enough — a major concern for states as the postal agency continues to struggle with service performance.
The order late Thursday by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington is a win for a group of states that successfully sued USPS and President Donald Trump to halt a series of operational changes that hobbled the postal service just before an expected surge in use of mail-in ballots during the pandemic.
At struggling facilities, “available processing equipment will be restored to service to ensure that USPS can comply with its prior policy of delivering election mail in accordance with First Class delivery standards,” the judge said.
Read More: USPS Still Not Sorting Election Mail Fast Enough, States Say
The order was intended to clarify a Sept. 27 injunction targeting the operational changes instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Trump donor who took the helm at USPS earlier this year. USPS had asked the judge to clarify the scope of the order, arguing that the massive sorting machines DeJoy ordered taken apart over the summer couldn’t be put together again.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led a group of states in the lawsuit — one of three such multi-state cases — said in a tweet Thursday that USPS had failed to comply with this injunction.
After failing to comply with this injunction for a month, today we secured a court order making it abundantly clear that the Trump admin must stop violating the law and must deliver all ballots immediately.
We will do everything in our power to protect people’s right to vote. https://t.co/Eslc8SrSa0
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) October 22, 2020
We will do everything in our power to protect people’s right to vote. https://t.co/Eslc8SrSa0
The USPS didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Sullivan acknowledged the USPS concern that reassembling all such machines “may not be possible,” but ordered it done anyway at any facility that can’t keep up with delivery election mail, such as mail ballots, as first class mail.
In a Pennsylvania case, a judge on Wednesday denied the state’s request to appoint an independent monitor to ensure the USPS followed through on its court-ordered commitments.
DeJoy’s changes included bans on employee overtime and late delivery trips that helped ensured delivery of millions of pieces of mail, as well as a policy to disassemble hundreds of mail-sorting machines, a change that particularly hit high density urban areas that lean Democratic. One federal judge said it was “easy to conclude” that the changes were intended to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election.
Slow Mail, Including Plunge In Philadelphia, Alarms Democrats
The U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday reported a slide in on-time service including a steep drop in the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia, with the election and its deadlines for mailed ballots less than a week away.
The Postal Service in a court filing said it delivered 70% of First Class mail on Oct. 27 within the three-day window to be considered on time, down more than 6 percentage points from previous days. On-time service in the Philadelphia area was 43%, compared with an on-time rate there of roughly 80% in early October.
The worsening performance follows months of alarm and litigation over slowed mail after operational changes ordered this summer under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor. A federal judge late Tuesday ordered DeJoy to immediately expand mail delivery with extra trips and later deliveries.
Democratic lawmakers took notice.
“These Postal Service delays are now jeopardizing the delivery of election mail, so I encourage all Americans who have not yet voted to vote in person or use designated election drop boxes,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee.
“Postmaster General DeJoy has either been unable or unwilling to fix what he broke,” Representative Gerry Connolly, chairman of the subcommittee on government operations.
J. Remy Green, an attorney representing voters in a New York case against the Postal Service, said Wednesday’s delivery figures show the agency “has continued to prioritize cost-cutting over their vital, civic role in elections.”
Postal service spokesman David Partenheimer said the agency makes ballot delivery its top priority.
“We are able to handle the volume,” Partenheimer said in an email.
USPS Says Thousands of Mail-In Ballots May Have Gone Missing
The U.S. Postal Service on Thursday told a judge that a review of processing data revealed roughly 4,250 mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina may have gone missing.
It’s possible the ballots were delivered, but that workers skipped a final envelope-scan procedure to speed delivery under a court-ordered rush, the USPS told U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington.
The data, which Sullivan ordered to be filed in a suit brought by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, showed an estimated 150,000 mail-in ballots were delivered to election officials across the country on Nov. 4 — a day after the election and potentially too late to count in some states.
But the data didn’t show when those ballots were mailed by voters, meaning it’s possible they were mailed too late to realistically arrive on time. The data also didn’t show how many of the ballots were ultimately counted, given that nearly two dozen states extended the deadline for accepting ballots postmarked by Nov. 3.
“The Postal Service is required by law to deliver all mail that is deposited in our system,” USPS spokesman David Partenheimer said in an emailed statement. “More than 97% of the ballots in question were delivered on-time pursuant to our service standards.”
The number of ballots that weren’t counted because they arrived late isn’t yet known, and may never be determined.
The number illustrates why so many states pushed to extend the deadline for accepting mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Nov. 3, and undercuts claims by President Donald Trump that any ballots that arrive after the election are fraudulent.
Samuel Spital, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the 150,000 figure can be misleading because there’s no way yet to know how much of that mail was actually delivered late. Even so, he said, Sullivan has correctly pushed the USPS to reveal the consequences of operational changes that hobbled the agency just before a heavily mail-dependent election.
“Any ballot that isn’t counted because of a delay in the mail is a voice that is not heard in our democracy, and that is not acceptable,” Spital said in an interview after the hearing. “The goal of the NAACP and the goal, I think, of the lawyers has been to ensure that we’re doing everything possible to make sure all ballots are counted and none are left behind.”
The case is one of several that were filed to challenge USPS operational changes, such as vast restrictions on overtime and late delivery trips, and the dismantling of hundreds of high-speed mail-sorting machines. A judge in one of the cases said it was “easy to conclude” the changes by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a longtime Republican donor, were intended to undermine confidence in the election.
The NAACP praised USPS workers despite the controversy.
“It’s important that American voters realize that the women and men of the USPS who are actually delivering the mail are extraordinary public servants and they have worked very hard under difficult conditions to make sure people’s voices are heard,” Spital said.
Georgia Runoffs Become Focus of USPS Ballot Delivery Suits
Data submitted by the USPS showed ballots continue to arrive at election offices. That includes 170 ballots in central Pennsylvania that were mailed by at least the Sunday before the election and didn’t arrive until Saturday, a day too late to be counted in the crucial swing state, which was called for Biden.
“There are still some parts of the system that are not working the way they should,” Shankar Duraiswamy, a lawyer for Vote Forward, said at the hearing. “I can’t tell you these late deliveries changed the election, but that’s 170 people in Pennsylvania who went to the effort of casting a ballot in the election and now they’re not going to be counted.”
The focus on Georgia will include requiring the USPS to continue to provide data on delivery performance in the state and other evidence that plaintiffs may request.
USPS spokesman David Partenheimer said the Postal Service is confidant about its ability to successfully carry out its role in the runoff process Georgia.
“We are not aware of any issues regarding the delivery of election mail in Georgia, and we will continue to be in close contact with Georgia election officials to ensure a successful mail-in voting process for voters that choose to cast their vote by mail in the January run-off elections,” according to a statement.
DeJoy has denied any political motivation behind USPS operational changes, saying they were envisioned before he started at the agency and were being carried out to improve efficiency and get the postal service back on budget. He had no previous postal service experience when he took the helm this year.
Sullivan asked the USPS and the plaintiffs in three combined cases to discuss a possible agreement to eventually resolve the matter and set another hearing for Nov. 18. The cases are separate from three multi-state lawsuits pending before other judges.
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