Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has announced that the U.S. Postal Service will suspend operational changes, like removing mail processing equipment and collection boxes, until after the November election.
While disclosing this on Tuesday August 18, 2020, DeJoy said the plan aimed at assuring Americans that the agency can handle the anticipated surge in mail-in voting.
DeJoy also said the agency won’t change retail hours at post offices across the country or close any mail-sorting facilities.
He said overtime hours would continue to be approved as needed to process mail.
The plan was as a result of the heightened scrutiny of DeJoy and the Postal Service by Democrats.
While Mr. DeJoy sets to testify before Congress this week, he has implemented changes, like controlling overtime and reducing extra trips, which some postal-union representatives and customers said caused delays.
Some lawmakers are calling for universal voting by mail, while others are saying it’s not worth the risk.
The Postal Service had also moved to decommission some sorting machines and removed blue collection boxes in some states.
The initiatives, which were said to be part of the normal course of business, caused concerns among Democrats and some postal-union representatives.
The maintained that it would reduce capacity for handling election ballots.
“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” Mr. DeJoy said.
He noted that some of the efforts had predated his arrival at the agency in June.
“The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall,” he said in a press release.
“The agency also will expand its task force on election mail and have additional resources on standby starting Oct. 1 in case there is unforeseen demand,” he said.
The Postal Service has been at the center of an intensifying debate over an expected increase in mail-in voting this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats have accused President Trump of using the Postal Service to attempt to undercut voters, citing his opposition to universal mail-in voting and recent operational changes at the agency.
“They felt the heat and that’s what we were trying to do, make it too hot to handle,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.