‘Dumpster fire’: Experts predict swing state ballot chaos due to DeJoy’s USPS overhaul

Steve HutkinsBlog, News

Raw Story: A noticeable slowdown in mail delivery by the US Postal Service (USPS) is becoming a significant concern for democracy advocates, as millions of Americans will be voting by mail this year. There’s growing worry about whether mail ballots will be counted in time — particularly in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

NBC News reported that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — a GOP donor who has been in his position since a Republican-controlled USPS Board of Governors put him there in 2020 — is being blamed for mail delays due to his 10-year restructuring of the USPS. DeJoy’s plan, dubbed “Delivering for America,” involves consolidating all mail-sorting operations to 60 regional distribution centers. The plan’s rollout began in the fall of 2023, and the on-time delivery rate of two-day, first-class mail has since dropped from 90% to 87.5%.

“It’s just a dumpster fire right now,” former USPS manager Leo Raymond told NBC. “If you’re a business, you’re going to be discouraged from using the mail because you want your stuff to actually get there.”

In a a letter to DeJoy last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)  led an effort with nearly two dozen Senate Democrats to publicly condemn DeJoy’s USPS overhaul and its effect on mail delivery. They warned that under the plan, “outgoing mail processing will move hundreds of miles to a regional facility, outside reasonable commuting distance and, in some cases, to another state entirely.”

“Wyoming, Vermont, and New Hampshire are set to lose all outgoing mail processing from within the state,” the letter read. “[F]or communities near facilities under review, it is unclear how local first-class mail will meet its two-day standard while traveling hundreds of miles for sorting. This is especially concerning for Americans who need reliable and expedient mail service to conduct business, pay their bills, receive medications, and stay in touch with loved ones.”

One of the hardest-hit metropolitan areas by DeJoy’s plan is Atlanta, which Leo Raymond described as “a complete house on fire.” According to NBC, the rate of on-time delivery of mail went from 60-70% to roughly 20%. And because President Joe Biden won the state by less than 12,000 votes in 2020 largely due to high Democratic turnout in the Atlanta Metro area, it’s expected that mail-in ballots could play a crucial role in deciding who wins Georgia’s electoral votes this November.

““We’re approaching a major November election,” Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), who represents parts of Houston, said last month. “We need to make sure that we iron out any difficulties, any obstacles, any barriers, any issues now, so that we don’t end up in a situation much like we were in with the November ballots.”

Louis DeJoy’s tenure at the helm of the USPS may not continue for much longer. In March, Biden nominated former US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh to fill one of the USPS Board of Governors’ two vacancies. If confirmed by the US Senate, Walsh would be the sixth Democrat to sit on the nine-member board. And because DeJoy is accountable to the board rather than the president, the board could theoretically hold a vote to appoint a new postmaster general at any point.

Steve Hutkins, who runs the Save the Post Office website, told NBC that he hopes mail delays “won’t be a problem” in November as the USPS has in the past implemented special procedures to speed up mail delivery in previous elections. However, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a fiasco in the event of a nail-biter election.

“If the election is really close and a couple of key states have mail ballot issues, it could be a nightmare,” he said.

Click here to read NBC’s report in full.