USPS crisis: Why mail is delayed, how it affects the election and what’s being done about it

USPS crisis: Why mail is delayed, how it affects the election and what’s being done about it

More than 80 million voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail this fall so they can avoid polling places and the risk of COVID-19.

But instead of ramping up capacity to handle what could be double the number of mail-in ballots cast compared with the last presidential election, the US Postal Service took a series of steps this summer that could dramatically cut back its ability to handle the unprecedented number of ballots it will receive. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy now intends to pause his planned changes, which include closures of mail processing machines, until after the Nov. 3 presidential election, amid a bipartisan outcry.


Here’s what we know about mail-in and absentee voting and how you can make sure your vote counts this fall.

Why is this a big deal?

The reductions planned by DeJoy, who was appointed in June, includes taking offline 671 of its high-capacity letter sorting machines, removing collection boxes in Western states, limiting overtime and cutting back post office hours.

The Postal Service has advised states it can’t guarantee ballots will reach voters before the election. In letters sent to 46 states and the District of Columbia, the Postal Service warned “there is a significant risk that the voter will not have sufficient time to complete and mail the completed ballot … in time for it to arrive by the state’s return deadline.”

These moves, which the post office had said it was taking to “run more efficiently,” come as Trump makes contradictory and often false remarks about the post office. He has threatened to cut off funding for the service and followed shortly after by tweeting that he wants to “SAVE THE POST OFFICE!”

The result of all the planned changes ahead of the election, according to election lawyer Marc Elias, is that the Postal Service wouldn’t be prepared to handle the surge of mail-in ballots in November. “The Trump administration has turned to weakening the United States Postal Service in a cynical effort to keep people from voting,” Elias wrote last week…Read more>>