Q&A: What’s taking place on the US Postal Service, and why?

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The U.S. Postal Service is warning states it can’t assure that every one ballots solid by mail for the Nov. Three election will arrive in time to be counted, even when ballots are mailed by state deadlines. That’s elevating the chance that hundreds of thousands of voters may very well be disenfranchised.
It’s the most recent chaotic and complicated growth involving the company, which has discovered itself in the midst of a high-stakes election 12 months debate over who will get to vote in America, and the way. These questions are significantly potent in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led many People to think about voting by mail as a substitute of heading to in-person polling locations.
The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention recommends mail ballots as a option to vote with out risking publicity to the virus on the polls. However President Donald Trump has baselessly excoriated mail ballots as fraudulent, nervous that a rise might price him the election. Democrats have been extra seemingly than Republicans to vote by mail in major contests held to date this 12 months.
Some questions and solutions about what’s happening with the submit workplace and the upcoming election:
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE POST OFFICE?
The Publish Workplace has misplaced cash for years, although advocates word it’s a authorities service reasonably than a profit-maximizing enterprise.
In June, Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor and logistics firm govt, took over as the brand new postmaster common and Trump tasked him with making an attempt to make the Postal Service extra worthwhile. Doing so would additionally squeeze companies reminiscent of Amazon. Its chief govt, Jeff Bezos, has come underneath criticism from Trump due to the protection the president has obtained from The Washington Publish, which Bezos owns.
DeJoy reduce time beyond regulation, late supply journeys and different bills that guarantee mail arrives at its vacation spot on time. The end result has been a nationwide slowdown of mail.
The Postal Service is hoping for a $10 billion infusion from Congress to proceed working, however talks between Democrats and Republicans over a broad pandemic reduction package deal that might have included that cash have damaged down.
On Thursday, Trump frankly acknowledged that he’s ravenous the postal service of that cash to make it tougher to course of an anticipated surge of mail-in ballots. Trump on Saturday tried to re-calibrate his place. He stated that he helps extra funding for the postal service however refuses to capitulate to different elements of the Democrats’ reduction package deal — together with funding for cash-strapped states.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER IN AN ELECTION YEAR?
Mail-in ballots have exploded in reputation for the reason that pandemic unfold in mid-March, on the peak of major season. Some states have seen the demand for mail voting improve fivefold or extra in the course of the primaries. Election officers are bracing for the chance that half of all voters — or much more — will solid ballots by mail in November.
Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington state have common mail voting, and California, Nevada and Vermont are beginning common mail voting in November. However the remainder have little expertise with such a quantity of ballots solid by way of the mail.
Well timed mail is vital to voting by mail. In states with out common mail-in voting, purposes for mail ballots are typically despatched out to voters by mail. They’re returned, once more, by mail. Then the precise ballots are despatched to voters by mail, and returned, once more, by mail, often by Election Day.
Late final month, Thomas J. Marshall, the submit workplace’s common counsel and govt vice chairman, despatched states a letter warning that lots of them have deadlines too tight to satisfy on this new world of slower mail.
Pennsylvania, for instance, permits voters to request a mail poll by Oct. 27. Marshall warned that voters there ought to put already accomplished ballots within the mail by that date to make sure they arrive by Nov. 3.
This has been a possible downside for the reason that Obama administration, when the submit workplace relaxed requirements for when mail needed to arrive. Nevertheless it’s significantly acute when the quantity of mail ballots is anticipated to blow up in states reminiscent of Pennsylvania, which solely accepted an enlargement of mail voting late final 12 months. It’s additionally acute when the president has stated overtly he desires to restrict votes by his rivals by holding them from voting by mail.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
It’s unclear. The primary query is whether or not there will likely be a coronavirus reduction invoice that might assist fund the submit workplace. Republicans and Democrats are far aside on the measure and Congress has gone house for just a few weeks.
Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking the chamber again into session this week to handle the Postal Service.
A vote is anticipated Saturday on laws, the “Delivering for America Act,” that may prohibit any adjustments in mail supply or providers for 2020. Congress is on summer season recess and had not been anticipated to return till September. The Senate stays away.
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If there’s no decision of the coronavirus assist, the matter is bound to return up throughout negotiations in September to proceed to fund the federal authorities. The federal government will shut down if Trump doesn’t signal a funding invoice by Sept. 30.
States can even act to vary their mail balloting deadlines. That’s what Pennsylvania did this previous week, with the state asking a courtroom to maneuver the deadline for receiving mail ballots again to 3 days after the Nov. Three vote, offered the ballots have been positioned within the mail earlier than polls shut on Election Day.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and another Democratic lawmakers are additionally searching for a assessment of DeJoy’s coverage adjustments. In response to the letter, spokeswoman Agapi Doulaveris of the U.S. Postal Service Workplace of Inspector Normal stated the workplace is “conducting a physique of labor to handle the considerations raised.” She declined to elaborate.
Related Press writers Anthony Izaguirre in Charleston, West Virginia, and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

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