USPS Cutbacks Amid Vote By Mail Concerns
LWVOR members started writing last week, asking for League action amid delivery slowdowns and news of cutbacks. We are networking more than ever and LWVUS is responding! The League sued the Postmaster General over USPS Changes, filing on August 18.
Oregon was the first full Vote by Mail (VBM) state so the current US Postal Service mess deeply concerns us. LWVOR encourages voters to save taxpayers the postage in Oregon & use the ballot dropboxes (when you can). More states are scrambling to institute VBM, to protect voters from undue COVID exposure. CURRENT news abounds:
- A congressional hearing examined covid and elections concerns with USPS finances and operations, August 21.
- National delivery delays, “Like Armageddon’: Rotting food, dead animals and chaos at postal facilities amid cutbacks”, reported in the LA Times, August 20.
- Oregon Senators called for a reversal of postage rate increases for election mail to First Class, increasing elections’ costs, August 18th. Mail cutbacks will affect veterans and others depending on mail delivery of prescriptions and other essential deliveries.
- Oregon mailboxes were removed last week, 27 in Eugene and 4 in Portland (see below). USPS Regional spokesperson, Ernie Swanson, called back on August 14th about them but did not mention the concurrent mail sorting machines’ dismantling in Portland. This will affect delivery times for all of Oregon as mail is now funneled through Portland, where carriers say “they are gravely concerned about the impact that removing these machines can have on mail delivery in the coming months.”
- Our SoS sent a press statement regarding the USPS on August 14, with a link to a July 31st USPS Letter from the postmaster General.
The Local View: Removing Mailboxes
Members wrote (Thank You!) asking LWV to act on USPS cutbacks: mailbox removal, high-speed processor shutdowns, mail stacking up with delivery delays- serious concerns for Vote by Mail! Last Friday I called Ernie Swanson, USPS regional spokesperson in Seattle. He said some excess boxes were taken out where they had multiples in Eugene and Portland, now with less snail mail use. Sometimes they take out single ones for repair. He added they’re confident they can handle Oregon’s [election] mail, have for some time. The ballot envelopes are a unique size, can be sorted and handled quickly.
So I drove out to look. I’d wondered why there had been 4 in a row on Oak St. I understand the hospital doesn’t send out x-rays anymore from the 2nd one at the old University hospital, since moved to Springfield. We want the USPS to get the support it will need for Vote-by-Mail.
-Rebecca Gladstone, LWVOR President