Presidential elections in the midst of a pandemic make for quite the year. With in-person voting no longer an option for many, people planned to vote by mail. However, a series of changes at the United States Postal Service have drastically slowed services. In particular, the removal of massive mail-sorting machines has caused deliveries to be delayed. After facing pressure to reverse the changes to the Postal Service, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said this week that the USPS can't bring back mail-sorting machines.
In May, President Trump appointed DeJoy — a top GOP donor — as the new postmaster general. DeJoy established new guidelines that essentially turned the USPS into a mess. And then, reports trickled in about massive mail-sorting machines being removed while Trump basically confirmed he's killing the USPS to sabotage mail-in voting.
Earlier this month, court documents obtained by CNN revealed just how far it's all gone. This year alone, USPS removed over 700 mail-sorting machines. To put that into perspective, USPS only removed about 388 machines per year from 2015 to 2019. That means in the middle of an election year, USPS almost doubled its machine removal.
Last week, a federal judge ordered that the USPS reverse its changes. In his opinion, Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, called the removal of mail-in voting machines a "politically-motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service." In response, DeJoy and the USPS said in a Wednesday filing that they would be unable to do so because the machines had been stripped for parts.
The excuse hasn't sat well with politicians like Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) who tweeted, "We will fight until every machine is returned, until every postal worker is protected, and until the forever Impeached President and every one of his corrupt buddies understands never to mess with the USPS."
Most people don't realize just how important these mail-sorting machines are. They can sort 36,000 pieces of mail an hour. Their removal not only threatens the process of mail-in voting but also harms people who rely on USPS for necessities like medication. This month, Senate Democrats found that prescription deliveries were significantly delayed after DeJoy's appointment with the average delivery time increasing by up to 32%.
It's not just that DeJoy says the machines were dismantled for parts that's bad. First, some witnesses report that many of the mail-sorting machines were actually dismantled and tossed into dumpsters. In addition, HuffPost reported that 72% of the machines were removed from counties Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has time and time again made it clear that he intends to dispute any election results that don't go his way. With this in mind, the removal and reported dismantling of mail-sorting machines in an election year feels all the more sinister. Bastian warned as such in his ruling, stating that DeJoy's changes to the USPS were an "intentional effort by the current administration to disrupt and undermine the legitimacy of upcoming ... elections."