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 not assure that every one ballots forged 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 likelihood that thousands and thousands of voters could possibly be disenfranchised.
It’s the newest chaotic and complicated growth involving the company, which has discovered itself in the midst of a high-stakes election yr debate over who will get to vote in America, and the way. These questions are notably potent in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led many People to contemplate voting by mail as an alternative of heading to in-person polling locations.
The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention recommends mail ballots as a method to vote with out risking publicity to the virus on the polls. However President Donald Trump has baselessly excoriated mail ballots as fraudulent, apprehensive that a rise may price him the election. Democrats have been extra possible than Republicans to vote by mail in major contests held to date this yr.
Some questions and solutions about what’s happening with the submit workplace and the upcoming election:
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE POST OFFICE?
The Submit Workplace has misplaced cash for years, although advocates notice it’s a authorities service somewhat than a profit-maximizing enterprise.
In June, Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor and logistics firm government, took over as the brand new postmaster normal and Trump tasked him with making an attempt to make the Postal Service extra worthwhile. Doing so would additionally squeeze companies equivalent to Amazon. Its chief government, Jeff Bezos, has come below criticism from Trump due to the protection the president has obtained from The Washington Submit, 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 consequence 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 would 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 more durable to course of an anticipated surge of mail-in ballots. Trump on Saturday tried to re-calibrate his place. He mentioned that he helps extra funding for the postal service however refuses to capitulate to different components 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 likelihood that half of all voters — or much more — will forged 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 forged via the mail.
Well timed mail is essential 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, normally by Election Day.
Late final month, Thomas J. Marshall, the submit workplace’s normal counsel and government vice chairman, despatched states a letter warning that a lot of them have deadlines too tight to fulfill 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. However it’s notably acute when the quantity of mail ballots is anticipated to blow up in states equivalent to Pennsylvania, which solely permitted an enlargement of mail voting late final yr. It’s additionally acute when the president has mentioned brazenly he needs to restrict votes by his rivals by protecting them from voting by mail.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
It’s unclear. The primary query is whether or not there can be a coronavirus reduction invoice that would assist fund the submit workplace. Republicans and Democrats are far aside on the measure and Congress has gone house for a couple of weeks.
Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi and different Democrats are contemplating calling the Home again into session to handle the Postal Service, in keeping with aides conversant in a Saturday night management name. One aide mentioned the Home may return subsequent week or the next week. The aides weren’t approved to debate the decision publicly and requested anonymity.
If there’s no decision of the coronavirus support, the matter is certain 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 alter 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 a few days after the Nov. Three vote, supplied the ballots had been positioned within the mail earlier than polls shut on Election Day.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and another Democratic lawmakers are additionally in search of a evaluation of DeJoy’s coverage modifications. In response to the letter, spokeswoman Agapi Doulaveris of the U.S. Postal Service Workplace of Inspector Basic mentioned the workplace is “conducting a physique of labor to handle the issues raised.” She declined to elaborate.
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Related Press writers Anthony Izaguirre in Charleston, West Virginia, and Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

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