Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

U.S SENATORS PRESS POSTAL SERVICE FOR DETAILS ON HOW FACILITY CONSOLIDATION COULD IMPACT ON-TIME DELIVERY OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS

July 9, 2024

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » Senator Tina Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (both D-MN) joined 17 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy requesting information about how the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plans to ensure the timely delivery of mail-in ballots throughout the ongoing 2024 election cycle and beyond. The request comes in light of USPS facility consolidations initiated under DeJoy, which have been temporarily paused following outcry from people all across the country as well as Congressional leaders. Through this process, USPS has greenlit the downgrading of 56 of 59 selected postal facilities nationwide — including in Minnesota.

“USPS serves an essential function in American elections. On a nonpartisan basis, it securely processes, transports, and delivers election mail, including ballots. In 2020, the Postal Service overcame a series of challenges, including the onset of a global pandemic, to fulfill this critical mission. Impressively, it delivered 97.9% of ballots within three days, even as a record number of Americans voted by mail. For the 2022 midterm elections, USPS maintained this standard of excellence and delivered 98.96% of ballots within three days,”wrote the senators. “We applaud these achievements, but much has changed since 2022.”

“In July 2023, USPS completed its first regional consolidation in Richmond, Virginia. A report from the USPS Inspector General found that the consolidation led to “a decrease in service performance for the Richmond region that continued four months after launch,”they continued. “Earlier this year, these delays led some local election officials to direct area residents to forego USPS entirely and instead place primary election ballots in designated drop boxes. USPS continued the Mail Processing Facility Review process for several months, despite this evidence of consolidation-related service disruptions.”

“We believe that the Postal Service remains well-equipped to securely deliver mail-in ballots. However, given the service disruptions already resulting from the Deliver for American plan, we fear the same approach adopted by USPS in 2020 and 2022 may not be sufficient to guarantee on-time delivery results,” wrote the senators.

Specifically, the Senators requested the Postmaster General answer the following questions by July 24, 2024:

  1. Has USPS conducted any studies evaluating the Deliver for American (DFA) plan’s short- and long-term impact on election mail operations? If so, please provide us with a copy of such studies. If not, why not?
  2. During the Mail Processing Facility Review (MPFR) pause, will the Postal Service commit to providing evidence that the consolidation will not result in further degradation of service for customers?
  3. Please describe any efforts the Postal Service has taken or plans to take to engage in direct outreach and offer support to election officials for the 2024 election, as it did during the 2020 and 2022 election cycles.
  4. Since 2022, has USPS developed new election mail strategies to account for continued implementation of the DFA plan?
  5. In the upcoming election, how does the Postal Service intend to improve service for the communities where it has already proceeded with postal consolidations?
  6. What support from Congress, if any, does USPS need to ensure on-time delivery of election mail?

Senators Klobuchar and Smith have long been leaders on holding the Postal Service accountable. The Senators requested an audit of the Minnesota-North Dakota Postal District back in December. They also introduced the bipartisan Postal Delivery Accountability Act, which would address USPS’ failure to accurately track when mail routes do not receive deliveries. They also pressed USPS for answers about a payroll error that led to 53,000 rural letter carriers missing or receiving only a partial paycheck.

You can read the full text of the letter here.

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