Postmaster General

Pa. Politicians Call for Changes at Postal Service to Better Handle Mail-in Ballots

The leaders, all Democrats, criticized Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, saying that after his appointment to the job, policy changes at USPS have led to mail slowdowns and shaken public confidence in the service's ability to deliver on time.

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What to Know

  • Three Philly-area Congressional representatives and the Pennsylvania Attorney General gathered outside a U.S. Postal Service facility in Eastwick Thursday, calling for changes that would ensure timely and more reliable mail deliveries as ballots are already being cast.
  • The leaders, all Democrats, criticized Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, saying that after his appointment to the job, policy changes at USPS have led to mail slowdowns and shaken public confidence in the service's ability to deliver on time.
  • Late last month, a federal judge in Philadelphia ordered the Postal Service to stop cuts that increased mail delays and caused concern about the service's ability to deliver mail-in ballots on time. Attorney General Josh Shapiro called for an independent monitor to oversee that judge's decision would be followed at USPS.

Three Philly-area Congressional representatives and the Pennsylvania Attorney General gathered outside a U.S. Postal Service facility in Eastwick Thursday, calling for changes that would ensure timely and more reliable mail deliveries as ballots are already being cast.

The leaders, all Democrats, criticized Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, saying that after his appointment to the job, policy changes at USPS have led to mail slowdowns and shaken public confidence in the service's ability to deliver on time.

"We are less than a month away from concluding an election that will decide the future of this country, and we know that hundreds of thousands of those votes in Pennsylvania will be sent by mail," Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon said.

The officials called for a reversal of those changes. Late last month, a federal judge in Philadelphia ordered the Postal Service to stop cuts that increased mail delays and caused concern about the service's ability to deliver mail-in ballots on time.

A postal service spokesperson said in September that slowdowns in mail service were beginning to improve and reiterated that USPS would not bring back any sorting machines that were already jettisoned.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro called for an independent monitor to oversee that judge's decision would be followed at USPS.

"To ensure that these illegal changes that Louis DeJoy put in place are rolled back. Because here's the deal: I heard Louis DeJoy testify before these fine Congresspersons," Shapiro said. "And I don't believe a word he says."

In a separate case in New York federal court, USPS agreed to process election mail as First Class Mail wherever possible.

But union officials said USPS continued to do away with sorting machines despite the judge's order. USPS dismantled a Philly mail sorting machine recently, which postal worker union officials have said contributes to mail delays. The agency has said the order to dismantle the sorting machines came before DeJoy took over the USPS in May 2020. 

Before his appointment, DeJoy had been a highly active Republican fundraiser and a shareholder in UPS and Amazon.

"Yesterday, Mr. DeJoy was ordered by a federal order not to disassemble any more machines," said Nick Casselli, President of the American Postal Workers' Union Local 89. "Yesterday I received a picture from one of my union officers that showed another machine laying in that scrapyard right behind that building, disassembled for scrap. ... We are losing our weapons and our equipment to process this mail in an efficient time."

DeJoy arrived in Philadelphia Thursday for a scheduled visit. He released a statement saying he was happy to be in Philadelphia and that timely, secure delivery of election mail is his number one priority. 

Scanlon said voters with mail-in ballots could get their ballot in well before election day, and if possible utilize a satellite elections office or ballot dropbox.

"Voting by mail is safe, it's secure, it's efficient, and we've been doing it since the Civil War," Scanlon said. "This year, in the midst of a pandemic which is ravaging our country with no end in sight thanks to President Trump and his administration, voting by mail is not just a convenience, it's a public health tool and a critical one at that."

"The president knows that his best chance at winning re-election is to suppress the vote, to keep people from voting," she contended.

Voting by mail is already underway at elections offices and ballot dropboxes that elections boards have placed across our region.

NBC10 reached out to a USPS spokesperson Thursday. We have not yet heard back from them.

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