POST OFFICE WARNS 46 STATES ABOUT MAIL VOTING DELAYS: REPORT
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service is warning states coast to coast that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted, even if mailed by state deadlines, raising the possibility that millions of voters could be disenfranchised.
Voters and lawmakers in several states are also complaining that some curbside mail collection boxes are being removed.
Even as President Donald Trump rails against wide-scale voting by mail, the post office is bracing for an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The warning letters sent to states raise the possibility that many Americans eligible for mail-in ballots this fall will not have them counted. But that is not the intent, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in his own letter to Democratic congressional leaders.
The post office is merely “asking elected officials and voters to realistically consider how the mail works, and be mindful of our delivery standards, in order to provide voters ample time to cast ballots through the mail,” wrote DeJoy, a prominent Trump political donor who was recently appointed.
At the same time that the need for timely delivery of the mail is peaking, service has been curtailed amid cost-cutting and efficiency measures ordered by DeJoy. He has implemented measures to eliminate overtime pay and hold mail over if distribution centers are running late.
The back-and-forth comes amid a vigorous campaign by Trump to sow doubts about mail-in voting as he faces a difficult fight for reelection against Democrat Joe Biden.
Though Trump casts his own ballots by mail, he’s repeatedly criticized efforts to allow more people to do so, which he argues without evidence will lead to increased voter fraud that could cost him the election.
“This is a deeply troubling development in what is becoming a clear pattern of attempted voter suppression by the Trump administration,” Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement.
Kim Wyman, the Republican secretary of state in Washington state, where all voting is by mail, said sending fall ballot material to millions of voters there is a “routine operation of the U.S. Postal Service.”
“Politicizing these administrative processes is dangerous and undermines public confidence in our elections,” she said in a statement. “This volume of work is by no means unusual and is an operation I am confident the U.S. Postal Service is sufficiently prepared to fulfill.”