September 4, 2020
Internal documents obtained by CREW show that the US Postal Service told Congress it had plans in place to ensure proper staffing so that voting by mail would not be threatened during the pandemic before Louis DeJoy became Postmaster General and made changes that appear to put the guarantee of voting by mail in jeopardy.
On June 5, 2020, in response to a request from the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee as to whether USPS had a “concrete plan” to ensure necessary capacity to process voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic, a senior USPS official wrote, “Yes, the Postal Service has the capacity to adjust our nationwide processing and delivery network to meet projected Election and Political Mail volume” during the pandemic, noting that USPS has “long-standing processes to align workforce to workload, including contingencies to respond to events like the COVID-19 pandemic” and “will continue to adjust staffing levels as needed to maintain its important role in our democratic process.” The meaning could not be more clear: in May and early June, senior USPS officials were extremely confident in the agency’s ability to deliver all election mail accurately and on time.
Ten days later, Trump mega-donor Louis DeJoy became Postmaster General, and less than a month after that, the agency changed its tune. Internal USPS memos first revealed on July 13, show that the new Postmaster General announced new changes that would severely limit overtime.
On June 18, 2020, Democratic staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works wrote USPS to ask: “Is there a plan to mitigate this roundabout mail sorting for the purpose of Vote by Mail? Has such an effort been considered? Why or why not?”
USPS responded on July 1st that it “is not considering changing distribution plans for the purpose of Voting by Mail as doing so would introduce added risk to service and decreased levels of efficiency throughout the network.”
On August 13th, CNN reported that USPS “had plans to remove hundreds of high-volume mail-processing machines from facilities across the country, leading some postal workers to fear they may have less capacity to process mail during election season.”
On August 18th, the Detroit News reported that Michigan union leaders were sounding alarms about USPS policy changes that they described as part of a “conscious decision to delay mail.”