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.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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