Letter to the editor: Postal Service backpedals after public outcry
The U.S. Postal Service operates as a public service, not just a business. The services it provides include delivery of mail to rural areas, medicine to veterans, Social Security checks to seniors, and ballots for mail-in voting.
Purportedly to save money, the postmaster general recently took measures that, he acknowledges, have delayed mail deliveries: banning overtime and extra trips to deliver mail. Other problematic measures have included removing mail collection boxes from city streets, dismantling and removing high-speed sorting machines and imposing a hiring freeze on management positions. In addition, the service has suggested that to ensure faster delivery of ballots, the states should pay the first-class rate of 55 cents rather than the marketing-mail rate of about 20 cents.
Partly because these changes will result in delayed mail deliveries, the service has advised 46 states and D.C that it will be unable to meet the states’ deadlines for requesting and casting last-minute ballots. That is unacceptable.
Delayed mail delivery is particularly troublesome now, because we’re on the brink of an election where in-person voting will present substantial health risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has therefore recommended that states “consider offering alternatives to in-person voting” and that citizens “consider voting alternatives available in your jurisdiction that minimize contact” — i.e., mail-in voting.
After considerable public outcry, the service has announced that the problematic measures described above will be deferred until after the election. That is a good first step, but what’s now needed is public support for further steps to ensure that election mail is delivered on time: adequate congressional funding, extended overtime pay, the hiring of additional personnel where needed, and a requirement that ballots mailed at the marketing-mail rate must be handled like first-class mail. Please keep the pressure on by contacting the Postal Service and your congressional representatives.
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