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Senators worried about the post office could disrupt the November vote

Post workers prepare mail for delivery at Kilbourn Park Post Office on May 09, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.

Post workers prepare mail for delivery at Kilbourn Park Post Office on May 09, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
picture: Scott Olsen (Getty Images)

Democratic senators warned Friday that controversial changes to U.S. Postal Service procedures have raised concerns in Washington about the timely delivery of mail-to-mail votes ahead of the November election.

Earlier this month, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy approved a controversial cost-cutting operation in the USPS, which Congress re-imagined last century as a hybrid government corporation. Instead of federal funds, the postal service, which traces its roots to the Federal era, would support itself through its own sources of revenue, none of which today are able to cover costs. DeJoy, who took office last month after 30 years as CEO of a North Carolina-based logistics firm, says the immediate changes and others to come are aimed at resolving operating deficits worth the years. who have left the agency more than a hundred billion dollars in debt.

a internal document taken from the Washington Post shows that DeJoy has paid more attention to schedule and punctuality, telling carriers to “get off the road and get back on time”. A direct consequence of this, says the July 10 memorandum to employees, is that carriers may “temporarily” see “mail left behind or mail on the floor of the study or dock”, which adds that they are not “typical “.

DeJoy, whose past as a major donor and fundraiser to President Trump has rubbed off so much wrongly, has portrayed the USPS as a “broken business model,” saying in a statement this week that an inability to balancing costs with available funds has led the agency to face “an impending liquidity crisis”. The agency, which the Conservatives have long sought to privatize, is widely expected to become insolvent this year.. However, Federal lawmakers are questioning the frivolity of implementing any drastic change between the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and just months before national elections.

“Recent concerns raised by voters and postal workers have brought to light dubious changes under your leadership that are now taking place at post offices and processing centers across the country that could adversely affect postal delivery,” reads one. letter to Postmaster General DeJoy by four U.S. senators on Friday. (The letter was written by Senators Gary Peter, Chuck Schumer, Tom Carper and Amy Klobuchar – of Michigan, New York, Delaware and Minnesota, respectively.)

The letter coincides with a Washington Post report described Nationwide support for the post, which he said was “alarming” for postal workers and union officials, whom the paper described as feared that DeJoy’s new protocols could “undermine their ability to given timely ballots for the November elections “.

Already, at least 65,000 absentee ballots or by mail have been rejected this year because they arrived on time, a NPR analysis found, “often without any voter fault.” Although the pandemic has exacerbated USPS funding problems, the White House in June threatened to veto a coronavirus relief package if it included any 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 in the USPS since DeJoy’s arrival. The changes were described to them only in vague terms, such as “operational efforts,” and it was not clear what schedule DeJoy operated on, they said.

The letter, sent Friday, includes seven questions about how little U.S. senators know, such as, “Did you discuss these operational changes, or any other operational changes, with administration officials outside the Post Office?” The letter claims that DeJoy did not consult “significantly” with any representatives of the postal union or any “other actors in the postal industry”.

“It is essential that the Postal Service does not slow down the mail or in any way compromise service for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors and millions of Americans who rely on the mail, including the considerable numbers who will rely on the Post Office. “exercise their right to vote,” the letter said.

USPS spokesman David Partenheimer said in an email that the agency was “focusing strongly on the efficiency” of its operations as part of a broader strategy to make the agency financially viable. “Of course we recognize that temporary service impacts can occur as we redouble our efforts to comply with current operational plans, but any such impact will be monitored and temporary, as the root causes of any issues will to be addressed as necessary and corrected as appropriate, ”he said.

Partenheimer said the agency would “continuously review” its practices and adjust them when required, “to ensure we operate efficiently and effectively”. He also sought to point out that DeJoy had been appointed by the Postal Service Board of Governors, and not the president, as others, he said, had reported incorrectly.

A spokesman for Senator Klobuchar, who created the USPS letter, said the sudden changes in agency had given the Minnesota senator cause for concern that election integrity could be at stake.

President Trump, meanwhile, left the view Thursday that the November election could be delayed because, he said on Twitter, expanding the mail sheets due to the concerns of the 19th public would cause “the biggest election disaster in history.” . in New York Times, the co-founder of the powerful conservative legal group, the Federal Society, a Trump ally, called the tweet “fascist”, adding that it was “the very basis for the immediate impeachment of the president”.

Sen. Ron Wyden told Gizmodo on Friday that he was increasingly concerned about efforts to undermine confidence in postal 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 rise to power, “Wyden said.” The elected official must make clear Trump’s transparent efforts to bring down systems our democracies are completely unacceptable. And Americans in states with polling stations can defend against sabotage by voting as soon as possible, or by turning votes into ballot boxes. “

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