Postmaster General Agrees to Prioritize Mail Ballots

Our beloved postmaster general testified before the Senate today:

“We will scour every plant each night leading up to Election Day,” Mr. DeJoy said in response to a question from Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, as he testified for over two hours before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee….“There has been no changes to any policies with regard to election mail,” Mr. DeJoy told the lawmakers, adding, “The Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail fully and on time.”

With the caveat that we should all keep a close eye on this stuff over the next couple of months, I think this represents an almost complete victory in the post office wars. It’s the handling and delivery of mail ballots that’s always been the biggest issue, not the dismantling of mail sorting machines, which has been ongoing for years:

Purchased when letters and not packages made up a greater share of postal work, the bulky and aging machines can be expensive to maintain and take up floor space postal leaders say would be better devoted to boxes. Removing underused machines would make the overall system more efficient, postal leaders say. The USPS has cut back on mail-sorting equipment for years since mail volume began to decline in the 2000s.

The year 2001 was the peak year for first class mail volume, which has declined by nearly half since then:

Ditto for mailboxes, which are routinely removed if daily usage falls below 25 pieces of mail:

The real issue has always been overtime rules and prioritization of mail ballots. A week ago the Postal Service was warning 46 states that it couldn’t guarantee delivery of all mail ballots in time for the November election. If DeJoy is now saying he is “committed to delivering the nation’s election mail fully and on time,” that represents a major victory for the cause of voting by mail. At this point we just need to make sure he’s as good as his word.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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