Elaine Thompson / AP
As November 3, the last day of the presidential election, approaches, U.S. Postal Service officials say they have already processed a record number of campaign messages this year.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many more voters to mail their ballots. USPS officials say 100 million ballots have already been sent to or from voters. And although there have been reports of delays in a number of key countries, experts say postal voting has been relatively smooth so far.
Postal officials say they have made campaign mail their number one priority this election season and are keeping that promise.
“The postal service will leave nothing at stake when it comes to delivering the nation’s campaign mail,” Christine Sever, head of the postal service’s trade and delivery, said in a briefing for reporters on Thursday.
Postal officials say they have moved more than 500 million campaign letters so far, including ballots and flyers from various candidates. This figure represents an increase of 162% compared to the 2016 elections.
Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers’ Union, says postal workers feel like they’re in the middle of a storm, but things seem to be working.
“All the reports we hear are generally positive that pre-election mail, both to and by the voter, is given high priority. All mail is treated as first-class mail,” Dimondstein said, adding that workers “have additional views.” to the post office, extra control by making sure it is cleared every day and make sure the newsletter reaches its final destination to make sure it is counted. So we move heaven and earth. “
The postal service, in part due to court orders, has reversed some of the procedures established by the post’s director general, Luis Dejoy, which critics say delay mail. He stopped removing sorting machines and blue mailboxes, curtailed overtime, and left incoming mail from distribution centers later, at least until the election.
DeJoy is a big donor of dollars to Republicans, including President Trump.
But Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Committee say in time that first-class mail deliveries in several areas, including the swaying states of Pennsylvania and Michigan, are still below 80 percent.
The committee’s best Democrat, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, sent a letter to DeJoy this week, “to raise concerns and ask you to take all necessary action to reverse the growing delay in mail delivery.”
Sever says the postal service will take “emergency measures” in the week before the election, including making additional trips between post offices and election councils to ensure pre-election mail is delivered on time.
“Election mail will not be delayed,” she said. “The postal service takes all available resources to ensure the timely movement of all pre-election mail and we have the methods and mechanisms to do so.
Seaver says some facilities are operating at “COVID pandemic levels” due to staff shortages. The postal service, which she noted, continues to “work with our local communities, especially those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that they have the resources and assistance to influence ongoing postal services. services throughout their community. “
The interest and enthusiasm from this year’s elections also led to the recording of early personal voting and the use of ballot boxes, which removed some of the pressure from the post office.
Amber McReynolds, who heads the National Voting Institute at home, says that as far as campaign mail is concerned, “so far so good” and that she is not aware of the mail-related issues.
“It seems to me that most people are catching up. In some countries, you can still ask for the ballot. So if people are going to do it, they have to do it as soon as possible, because the clock is really ticking.”
The Postal Service, meanwhile, reminds voters in states where their ballots must be stamped by midnight on election day to make sure they leave them before the last mail is sent.