Upping the stakes in this fall’s general election, the U.S. Postal Service has sent letters to 46 states, including Pennsylvania, warning that it can’t guarantee that all ballots cast by mail for this November’s general election will arrive in time to be counted, according to published reports.
The Washington Post and other news outlets reported Friday that the warning comes even as the Trump White House and congressional Democrats fight over $25 billion in assistance for the postal service and $3.6 billion in aid to states to assist in mail-in balloting.
On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he would agree to the aid if Democratic leaders make concessions in stalled talks over a new coronavirus relief package.
“Sure, if they give us what we want,” Trump said at a news briefing, according to Reuters. Trump blamed Democrats for “blocking” aid for Americans.
The warning letters, sent by postal service General Counsel and Executive Vice President Thomas J. Marshall, were planned before the postal service underwent a dramatic cost-cutting moves that have delayed mail delivery by as much as a week in some parts of the country.
— PA Department of State (@PAStateDept) August 13, 2020
The postal service has also decided to decommission 10 percent of its sorting machines, raising fears of additional delays, the Washington Post reported. The postal service is overseen by Louis Dejoy, a logistics expert and major Trump donor.
ViceNews’ Motherboard reported Saturday that the plans to decommission the machines had been in place since May, before Dejoy took over as postmaster general:
“Language used in the notice to union officials, undermines the Postal Service’s narrative that the organization is simply “mov[ing] equipment around its network” to optimize processing, as spokesperson Dave Partenheimer told Motherboard on Thursday,” Vice reported. “The May document clearly calls the initiative an “equipment reduction.” It makes no mention of the machines being moved to other facilities. And the notice to union officials repeatedly uses the same phrase. Multiple sources within the postal service told Motherboard they have personally witnessed the machines, which cost millions of dollars, being destroyed or thrown in the dumpster. USPS did not respond to a request for comment.”
A Washington Post analysis listed Pennsylvania among the ranks of states facing a “heightened warning” of delays, a cohort of 186 million voters nationwide.
Late Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to extend mail-in balloting deadlines for the November general election.
Read the full text of the letter: