One big question right now is this: Will Louis DeJoy, the GOP fundraiser who was recently installed as postmaster general, help contribute to this evolving scheme, whether wittingly or not?
Specifically, Democrats say in the letter that DeJoy privately committed to presenting documentation of a plan to ensure that mail balloting runs smoothly, and challenge the postmaster general to make good on that.
DeJoy has made a series of cost-cutting changes to the U.S. Postal Service that have resulted in widespread delivery delays. As election experts note, such delays, if they hold up delivery of mail ballots, could cause serious disruptions to the election or potentially disenfranchise large numbers of voters.
As part of the talks over the economic rescue package, Democratic leaders met with DeJoy on Wednesday and told him reversing those changes are critical to getting a deal on that package. Democrats have also demanded that the deal include $10 billion in increased funding for the Postal Service to offset backlogs.
In their letter to DeJoy, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reveal more details from that meeting, in an effort to pin him down. The letter says:
At this meeting, you confirmed that, contrary to certain prior denials and statements minimizing these changes, the Postal Service recently instituted operational changes shortly after you assumed the position of Postmaster General. These changes include reductions of overtime availability, restrictions on extra mail transportation trips, testing of new mail sorting and delivery policies at hundreds of Post Offices, and the reduction of the number and use of processing equipment at mail processing plants.
That means the changes causing the delays really are being made. The letter again reiterates the demand that these changes get reversed, and pledges to fight for legislation to reverse them if needed.
The letter continues:
During our meeting, you committed to being more forthcoming and transparent with Congress and the American people regarding these changes, including providing documentation of the operational changes you have made and will be making since beginning your term and the Postal Service’s plan to successfully deliver election mail during the 2020 elections. We call on you to fulfill these commitments and also to provide any analysis of the possible impact of operational changes on mail delivery you conducted prior to implementing them, including the impacts on speed of delivery and quality of service.
That means DeJoy pledged to provide documentation of an actual plan to deliver mail ballots successfully, as well as of the changes themselves and a real analysis of the impact they might have.
Now, it remains to be seen whether Democrats will successfully use the talks over the rescue package to leverage fulfillment of these commitments. But the fact that DeJoy apparently made them should open the way for much more intense media scrutiny of his role and of his true intentions in terms of ensuring that mail delays don’t introduce chaos into November’s election.
Postal officials have flatly denied any intent to delay delivery of mail ballots or help Trump. But that by itself doesn’t matter: Such delivery delays could end up having a disenfranchising impact anyway, whatever their intentions, particularly if numerous state laws remain in place that invalidate ballots that were postmarked before Election Day but arrive after it.
And whatever DeJoy’s intentions, Trump’s intentions are clear: Such delays just would play into the scheme that Trump himself has outlined. As it is, because of the huge crush of pandemic-driven demand, huge numbers of mail ballots could remain uncounted on and just after Election Day. Those numbers could climb higher because of such delays.
Trump himself has flatly stated that he doesn’t “want to see” the winner declared “a week” after the election, while claiming that in such a scenario, all those outstanding ballots would be dubious. We know what his plan is, because he told us.
It’s possible that former vice president Joe Biden could win by a large enough margin that this doesn’t end up mattering. But why should we have to put up with relying on that?
It’s also plausible that even if the election is close and Trump tries to claim a rigged outcome, it won’t end up mattering. But it could still foment serious civil strife. Again, why should we have to put up with that?
If DeJoy has no intention of assisting with any such scheme, he can make that clear by fulfilling his apparent commitment to offer a documented plan to ensure a smooth election — and then by delivering on it.
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