US Ballot Delay Warnings, Mailbox Removals Prompt Anger, Inquiry

The U.S. Postal Service on Friday warned all 50 states that it cannot guarantee every ballot cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted. Meanwhile, voters and lawmakers in several states are complaining about the removal of several curbside mailboxes.  
 
While the post office’s letters raise the possibility that the mailed-in votes of many Americans will not be counted, that is not the intent, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in his own letter to Democratic congressional leaders.
 
The post office is merely “asking elected officials and voters to realistically consider how the mail works, and be mindful of our delivery standards, in order to provide voters ample time to cast ballots through the mail,” wrote DeJoy.FILE – U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, left, is escorted to a meeting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 5, 2020.The inspector general of the postal service has begun looking into some of the cost cutting measures DeJoy has implemented, including eliminating overtime pay and holding mail over, a congressional aide said Friday.  
The watchdog also will investigate possible conflicts of interest. DeJoy has donated $2.7 million to President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, according to Saloni Sharma, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who requested the investigation.  According to a financial disclosure form filed by his wife, DeJoy owns millions of dollars in stock in Postal Service rivals.
 
Early Saturday, a small crowd noisily protested outside DeJoy’s Washington condo saying they are concerned that he is gutting the postal service to help Trump win reelection in November.
 
The protesters blew vuvuzelas, banged pots and pans, and waved signs saying “Postmaster Saboteur,” “LET AMERICA VOTE” and “Deliver DeMail, Depose DeJoy.” One of DeJoy’s neighbors joined in, waving from her window at the protesters below.#Election2020@USPShttps://t.co/IpDu6kHQIR— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) August 15, 2020Though President Trump votes by mail, he has often criticized efforts to allow others to do so. He has argued without evidence that voting by mail will lead to increased voter fraud that could cost him the election.   
 
In Nevada, the state’s vote-by-mail law allows anyone to collect and return ballots on a voter’s behalf. Trump’s reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee and Nevada GOP filed a lawsuit last week to strike down the law over that provision.
 
More than half of the states allow a third party to collect ballots, called “ballot harvesting,” something Republicans argue makes fraud and illegal voting easier. Political groups and campaigns from both parties use such programs to boost turnout and help voters who are older, homebound or disabled return their ballot.
 
Voter fraud is rare in all forms of voting, including by mail, election security experts say.Trump Opposes New Postal Funding Because It Would Boost Mail-in VotingUS leader claims Democrats’ push for expanded voting would be thwarted if more Postal Service money is deniedA 2018 congressional election in North Carolina is one of the few examples. A state investigation found that a Republican political operative illegally gathered ballots and workers testified that they were directed to collect blank or incomplete ballots, forge signatures and fill in votes. Officials overturned the election.
 
Meanwhile, the Postal Service removed several curbside mailboxes in Oregon and Montana, triggering concern and anger.
 
In Montana, officials said the boxes were removed to eliminate underused drop boxes. But after the outcry, which included upset members of Congress, the officials said they were suspending the program in Montana.
 
In Oregon, Postal Service spokesperson Ernie Swanson said the boxes were removed there because of declining mail volume.