The Postmaster General faced his second Congressional hearing Monday, after the firestorm of coverage that engulfed the USPS last week. Here’s what you need to know about the mail:
Background: President Trump has long been an avid critic of mail-in voting, tweeting back in April:
“GET RID OF BALLOT HARVESTING, IT IS RAMPANT WITH FRAUD,”
- In the last few months, as it became clear COVID would force much of this year’s voting to be done via mail, the President greatly intensified his criticisms
- During a Fox Business interview the President directly tied USPS mail-processing capacity to his reelection:
“They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because  they’re not equipped to have it.”
Inciting Incident: These comments dovetailed with a historic slowdown of service at the USPS, under the supervision of its new Postmaster General.
- New cost cutting measures are the culprit, like banning overtime and removing 671 mail-sorting machines, whose only purpose is to speed mail delivery
- A large number of machines were removed from swing states, further increasing suspicion:
- 59 in Florida
- 58 in Texas
- 34 in Ohio
- 30 in Pennsylvania
- 26 in Michigan
- 15 in North Carolina
- 12 in Virginia
- 12 in Wisconsin
- These cost cuts are themselves in response to a crisis manufactured largely by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which caused the otherwise profitable agency to incur excessive losses
- Additionally, 600 more sorting machines were scheduled to be removed prior to the election and removed mailboxes were reported in cities across the country
- Internal Post Office documents show mail service to have dipped 8.1% below baseline since July, at a time when social distancing has made Americans more reliant than ever on the mail, for everything from groceries to medicine. It’s exactly these larger packages that have been set aside to speed the core mail service
Players: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was appointed in June of this year and has no prior experience at the agency.
- The USPS Board of Governors, most selected by President Trump, appointed DeJoy despite the significant conflicts of interest his financial investments pose
- DeJoy also donated more than $440,000 to the Trump campaign in 2016 and has been a longtime Republican fundraiser
- Since becoming Postmaster General, he has continued donating heavily to vulnerable Republican Senators up for reelection this year, like Lindsey Graham
- Additionally, he is acting as National Finance Chair to this year’s Republican National Convention, raising further questions about his ability to be impartial
- Aldona Wos, DeJoy’s wife, was appointed by President Trump as Ambassador to Canada and, since 2017, has served as vice president on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships
- He has yet to fully divest from these competitors, which pose a clear conflict of interest, as required by law
- DeJoy has stated that the further cost-cutting measures will be postponed but has refused to roll back the measures already undertaken
Coda: The Postal Service is one of the few public services explicitly mentioned in the Constitution and, as a service, is not mandated to generate a profit
Conclusion: Walking back all the planned cost cuts to the Post Office shows this to be exactly as much of a PR nightmare as it seems. In light of the postal service crisis, the United States House of Representatives decided to reconvene during recess to pass a $25 billion emergency funding bill. It’s still unclear how the debacle will be resolved, though, because the President’s veto threat has cooled the legislation’s progress in the Senate.
What’s a Goods user to do? We suggest requesting a mail-in ballot as early as possible and mailing it at least a week before the election or even dropping it off yourself.