On-time mail service has still not recovered from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s controversial changes to the US Postal Service as the November election approaches, according to a new report from Senate Democrats.
Shortly after starting at the agency in June, DeJoy — a Trump donor and ally — came under fire for implementing sweeping changes across the US Postal Service, including mandating stricter schedules for trucks transporting mail, which meant leaving mail behind at processing centers to stay on time. DeJoy’s moves caused widespread delays in mail service across the country just before a general election expected to be conducted in large part through the mail.
The report details the results of an investigation launched by Sen. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat who is the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The report alleges that DeJoy did not consider or conduct research on the effects that his changes would have on the postal service.
According to data analyzed by Peters’ office, every one of the postal service’s 67 districts across the country saw a decline in the on-time delivery of first-class mail, which is supposed to be delivered the fastest. In early August, the report finds, on-time delivery of first-class mail fell by 9.1 percentage points compared to the week before the USPS began implementing DeJoy’s changes.
In the second week of August, alone, approximately 85 million more late deliveries of first-class mail happened than would have otherwise occurred due to DeJoy’s order, according to the report. In some areas of the country, on-time delivery of first-class mail fell by 15-20 percentage points in the weeks after DeJoy’s truck order.
The report also notes that in early September, at the same time some states were gearing up to send out absentee ballots via mail, on-time delivery began declining again in many parts of the country.
The report was released shortly after a court hearing in New York about some of the changes DeJoy ordered, and their potential to affect the election.
At the hearing, Robert Cintron, the USPS vice president for logistics, testified that service standards “have bounced back” from their July lows. But asked if the new rules scaling back after-hours deliveries could cause election mail to get left behind, Cintron said it was possible.
Another senior USPS official who testified, Angela Curtis, acknowledged that the rule changes caused delays but also blamed a spike in coronavirus cases among postal workers.
DeJoy has testified in front of Congress twice over these changes and whether or not they would affect the 2020 election.
DeJoy had until Wednesday to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee after he failed to turn over documents on the changes made to the postal service that caused the delays. A source familiar with the matter said that USPS was working with the committee to make the deadline. A committee staffer confirmed this, but noted that not all documents had been turned over, “the Postal Service has begun to produce some documents, and we look forward to a more fulsome production today.”
In recent weeks, DeJoy has acknowledged disruptions in service, but USPS maintains that the situation is improving and that many of the changes are routine in nature and have been planned out for months.
DeJoy vehemently denies that he has ordered the changes to intentionally sabotage election mail this year, when there will be a record level of absentee ballots cast in the mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.