In spite of promises from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy earlier this week to suspend radical changes to United States Postal Service (USPS) facilities that resulted in slower mail delivery, some post offices in Michigan appear to be continuing to dismantle their mail sorting machines.
DeJoy had wanted to decommission more than 600 machines across the U.S. used to help workers more efficiently sort mail, but after reports that machines were being removed — and a potential lawsuit from 20 states’ attorneys general against him — the postmaster general announced on Tuesday that he would suspend what he claimed were efforts to improve the USPS.
“I believe significant reforms are essential … and work toward those reforms will commence after the election,” DeJoy said.
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Many critics noted that removing sorting machines, as well as changes to employees’ working hours at post offices across the country, would make it more difficult for voters to participate in mail-in voting during this year’s presidential election.
Those worries were heightened when President Trump suggested earlier this month that he was refusing to agree to additional funding for the USPS that would help the agency deal with an influx of mailed-in ballots.
“They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it,” Trump said last week. “How are they going to do it if they don’t have the money to do it?”
In spite of assurances from DeJoy that he would suspend his sudden changes to the USPS, reports out of Michigan after his announcement was made seem to suggest mail sorting machines continue to be decommissioned and tossed out. Heather Walker, a reporter with Grand Rapids, Michigan, television station WOOD-TV, tweeted a video on Wednesday noting that machine parts still appear to be leaving the local post office facility.
— Heather Walker (@_HeatherWalker) August 19, 2020
According to Walker, an employee also said a dumpster in the lot had “been filled three times since last week with parts and pieces of what we’re being told are the mail-sorting machines.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan) was asked by MSNBC host Joy Reid whether she believed DeJoy’s promises in light of Walker’s report.
“I believe my eyes,” Whitmer responded.
She added that the governor’s office was receiving reports that machines were still being removed from Michigan post office facilities.
“We’re getting reports from across the state, despite what the Trump administration said yesterday that they weren’t pursuing this, that this is, in fact, happening,” Whitmer said, stating that a facility in Pontiac, Michigan, also had reported discarding machines — “opposite sides of the state,” Whitmer added.
The Michigan governor requested that people across the U.S. contact the office of their state attorney general if they are aware of more machines being dismantled.
“We have to fight back to protect the U.S. postal system,” Whitmer said. “This is about our election at the end of the day, and we’ve got to ensure that every vote gets counted.”
In a statement Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke out against DeJoy’s assurances, pointing out that his promise to suspend his so-called reforms did not reverse the harmful changes that had already been made.
“The Postmaster General’s alleged pause is wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked,” Pelosi said, adding that the changes DeJoy has already implemented, whether paused or not, “directly jeopardize the election and disproportionately threaten to disenfranchise voters in communities of color.”