UPDATED 8/20, 1:15 p.m. ET: Following the news that U.S. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy would suspend initiatives to change the U.S. Postal Service, Vice reports that USPS headquarters informed maintenance managers to not reinstall any mail sorting machines they had disconnected.
"Please message out to your respective Maintenance Managers tonight. They are not to reconnect/reinstall machines that have previously been disconnected without approval from HQ Maintenance, no matter what direction they are getting from their plant manager," wrote USPS Director of Maintenance Operations Kevin Couch. "Please have them flow that request through you then on to me for a direction." In a follow-up email, he added, "We are not to reconnect any machines that have previously been disconnected."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that the suspension of these initiatives would not reverse anything, meaning any disconnected or removed sorting machines will not return anytime soon. As she put it, DeJoy "frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works."
As many have already said regarding the situation, Pelosi added, "All of these changes directly jeopardize the election and disproportionately threaten to disenfranchise voters in communities of color."
One worker for the USPS told Vice that they are now concerned DeJoy, a known Republican fundraiser and Trump donor, is waiting "till people aren't paying attention before he resumes degrading mail service."
See original story below.
In response to nationwide backlash and political pressure, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced his decision to suspend ongoing initiatives to change the U.S. Postal Service until after the election, according to a statement released from DeJoy.
The move follows widespread outrage from many concerned citizens who viewed the recent activity at the USPS as an attempt to rig the upcoming presidential election in Donald Trump's favor by making it harder for voters to cast mail-in ballots. DeJoy explained that his decision is meant to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail."
Earlier this week, Democratic leaders announced that they would be holding an emergency hearing on Aug. 24 to address concerns that Trump is using his power to manipulate the elections. DeJoy, a huge Trump donor-turned-appointee, is set to testify before the House on Friday.
"The president has explicitly stated his intention to manipulate the Postal Service to deny eligible voters access to the ballot in pursuit of his own re-election," a statement released by House leaders on Sunday read. "Alarmingly, the Postmaster General — a Trump mega-donor — has acted as an accomplice in the president's campaign to cheat in the election, as he launches sweeping new operational changes that degrade delivery standards and delay the mail."
The battle over the USPS has galvanized politicians, celebrities, and everyday citizens who are worried about the privitization of mail and also fear that their votes might not be counted, at a time when people are afraid of going to the polls because of COVID-19. In his statement, DeJoy announced his decision to expand the USPS election taskforce and stated that delivering election mail on time is “our number one priority.” He also stated that mail processing equipment and sorting machines will remain intact, following reports that both were being rounded up and removed by the current administration. “We will deliver the nation’s mail on time,” DeJoy claimed.
Of course, we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled and continue to apply pressure against DeJoy and others who may try to quietly dismantle the USPS ahead of November’s election.