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.”

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