follow the mail trail
August 14, 2020

As reports suggest numerous changes within the United States Postal Service could hinder its ability to process a flood of mail-in ballots this fall, it appears USPS officials created a plan to reduce mail sorting capacity.

Vice News' Motherboard reported Thursday that USPS has removed several mail sorting machines without a clear explanation to postal worker unions. In a follow-up report Friday, Vice reports the removals were part of a larger-scale plan from USPS officials, quite literally titled "Equipment Reduction." The plan proposed removing 15-20 percent of sorting machines across the country, which workers say would reduce processing capacities and force more mail to be hand-sorted, possibly causing consequential delays.

A USPS spokesperson said the Post Office "routinely moves equipment around its network as necessary," and said it was merely "adapting our processing infrastructure to the current volumes." But Vice writes that the "equipment reduction" plan made no mention of moving machines, just eliminating them. Sources even said "they have personally witnessed the machines, which cost millions of dollars, being destroyed or thrown in the dumpster," says Vice. "This will slow mail processing," one union official said.

After President Trump said he didn't want to give Democrats requested funding that would help expand mail-in voting amid the pandemic, lawmakers are keeping a close eye on USPS changes that could lead to fewer votes being counted in time for the presidential election. A group of senators urged Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to protect ballot processing. "Removing 20 percent of the Postal Service's sorting and processing equipment looks like another part of [Trump's] plan to bulldoze a vital American institution just to cling to power," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). As Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) put it, "this is insane." Read more at Vice News. Summer Meza

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