Democratic senators warned Friday that controversial changes to U.S. postal service procedures have raised concerns in Washington about the timely delivery of email ballots ahead of the November election.
Earlier this month, Master General Louis DeJoy approved a controversial cost-cutting operation at the USPS, which Congress re-imagined last century as a hybrid government corporation. Instead of federal funding, the postal service, which traces its roots back to the federalist era, would be maintained through its own sources of revenue, none of which is able to cover costs. DeJoy, who took office last month after 30 years as CEO of a North Carolina-based logistics company, says the immediate and other changes that will be made to address operating deficits which have left the agency with more than a hundred billion dollars in debt.
One internal document obtained by the Washington Post shows that DeJoy has put more emphasis on timing and punctuality, telling transportation companies to “get out on the street on time and get back on time.” A direct consequence of this, the July 10 note tells employees, is that carriers may see “temporarily” the “mail left behind or the mail on the floor of the workroom or docks,” which adds that it’s not typical ”.
DeJoy, who in the past as a major GOP donor and fundraiser for President Trump has rubbed many wrong ways, has portrayed the USPS as a “broken business model,” saying in a statement this week that an inability to balance costs with available funding has led the agency to face “an imminent liquidity crisis”. The agency, which the Conservatives have long tried to privatize, is widely projected into insolvency this year.. However, Federal lawmakers are questioning the health of implementing drastic changes amid the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and just a few months before the national elections.
“Recent concerns raised by voters and postal workers have highlighted questionable changes under his direction that are now occurring at post offices and processing centers across the country that could negatively affect mail delivery,” he read. a letter to post-master general DeJoy from four U.S. senators Friday. (The letter was designed by Senators Gary Peters, Chuck Schumer, Tom Carper and Amy Klobuchar – from Michigan, New York, Delaware and Minnesota, respectively.)
The letter coincides with a Washington Post report describing “Postcards from around the world” across the country, which he said are “alarming” to postal workers and union officials, whom the document describes as fears that DeJoy’s new protocols could “harm their ability” to deliver the ballots on time for the November elections “.
This year, at least 65,000 absentees or e-mail ballots have been rejected this year because they arrived after the deadline, one year NPR analysis is found, “often through no fault of the voter.” Although the pandemic has greatly aggravated the financial problems of the USPS, in June the White House threatened to veto a coronavirus relief package if it included money for the agency, which employs more than 630,000 workers.
The American Postal Workers Union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Democratic aide told Gizmodo that lawmakers, including those with oversight jurisdiction, did not have a full understanding of what has happened at the USPS since DeJoy’s arrival. The changes have been described to them only in ambiguous terms, such as “operational efforts,” and it was unclear when DeJoy was running.
The letter sent Friday includes seven questions that talk about how little American senators know, such as, “Have you discussed these operational changes or any other operational changes with officials outside the Post Office?” The letter states that DeJoy has not consulted “significantly” with any representative of the postal union or any other “interested party in the postal industry.”
“It is imperative that the postal service does not slow down mail or in any way compromise the service for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors and millions of Americans who trust the mail, including significant numbers who will trust the postal service. to exercise their right to vote, “the letter reads.
USPS spokesman David Partenheimer said in an email that the agency “focused intensely on the efficiency” of its operations as part of a broader strategy to make the financial agency stable. “Of course, we recognize that temporary impacts can occur on the service, as we redouble our efforts to comply with current operational plans, but these impacts will be controlled and temporary, as the root causes of any problems will be addressed from the necessary way and corrected as appropriate, “He said.
Partenheimer said the agency would “continuously review” its practices and adjust them, when necessary, “to ensure they operate efficiently and effectively.” He also wanted to stress that DeJoy was appointed by the Postal Service Governing Board, and not the president, as the others said, he said, that they had falsely denounced.
A spokesman for Senator Klobuchar, who appointed the letter from the USPS, said the sudden changes in the agency had given the Minnesota senator concern that the integrity of the election could be jeopardized.
For his part, President Trump on Thursday raised the idea that the November election could be delayed because, he said on Twitter, expanding the ballots by email due to public concerns about the Covid-19 would cause the “disaster biggest election in history. ” A la New York News, the co-founder of the powerful conservative legal group of the Federalist Society, an ally of Trump, called the tweet “fascist”, adding that “it was a new reason for his immediate representation.”
Senator Ron Wyden told Gizmodo on Friday that he was increasingly concerned about efforts to undermine faith in email ballots and elections in general.
“The fact that [Trump] is pushing unconstitutional fantasies, like changing election day, makes it clear how desperate he is to hold on to power, “Wyden said.” All elected officials must make it clear that Trump’s transparent attempts to overthrow our systems Democrats are totally unacceptable. And Americans from email voting states can protect themselves from sabotage by voting as soon as possible or by returning ballots to the ballot boxes. “