The Postal Service motto states, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” So why is mail delivery so slow, or even nonexistent, some days?
Moorestown’s Susan Coleman subscribes to Informed Delivery, a service where people can see what’s coming to their mailbox.
“Today, for the first time in history, literally in history, I received no mail. And I don’t understand that,” Coleman said.
State and federal lawmakers are getting complaints from constituents who’ve been following pandemic orders to stay home.
“We have a situation where people are going days without the mail,” Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) said. “We rely on the United States Postal Service for a lot of crucial services. Obviously, technology has changed a lot, but a lot of people get their medication, they pay their bills — especially a lot of seniors. They still use the postal service and I think that’s kind of unacceptable, especially in the middle of COVID.”
Democratic and Republican lawmakers have waged a letter-writing campaign demanding answers as the postal service reports it’s dealing with the coronavirus having infected 12,000 employees and killing 64. That’s on top of the White House seeking to drastically cut the USPS budget, calling the agency “a joke” and urging it to quadruple rates.
But there’s another issue: the directives of Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. An internal memo from him directs employees to leave mail in distribution centers if it’s going to delay them getting to their routes and to cut extra delivery trips.
“There are some directives there that are alarming,” said Rep. Andy Kim (D-3rd). “It looks like it’s having an adverse effect on the mission of the U.S. Postal Service, which is to deliver to everyone in this country in a timely and effective way.”
Kim said lawmakers already are working to financially uplift the post office as Americans anticipate November’s presidential election largely will be vote-by-mail. Critics argue the Trump White House is deliberately undermining the post office as a re-election tactic.
In a statement, a USPS spokesperson said, “The Postal Service is committed to delivering Election Mail in a timely manner. […] The Postal Service cannot guarantee a specific delivery date or alter standards to comport with individual state election laws. This means there was a high probability that some ballots would not be delivered prior to the election.”
“Well, I think they need to do better than that. If that’s the form response that you’re getting, then that’s deeply dissatisfying to us in terms of what we need to do,” Kim said.
The USPS recommends election officials send, and voters request, ballots at least 15 days before an election; that voters mail their ballots at least a week before the due date; and that voters, if unsure, should ask about vote-by-mail deadlines.
“For me, the post office has become a lifeline,” said Coleman, who prefers to vote by mail, and wonders about the White House’s focus on the post office.
“It just seems really fishy to me,” she said.