Aug 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

USPS priority mail delays got worse in early August, internal brief for postmaster general shows

DeJoy sits in front of the logo for the USPS
The postmaster general testifies to the Senate on Aug. 21. Photo: U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee via Getty Images

On-time delivery for priority mail has continued to drop after a steep decline on July 4, an internal briefing for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy released by the House Oversight Committee on Saturday shows.

Why it matters: The U.S. Postal Service alerted 46 states and Washington, D.C., at the end of July that it cannot ensure ballots sent by mail in the general election will arrive in time to be counted. The warnings were planned prior to DeJoy's appointment and before his now-suspended operational changes to the service, per the Washington Post.

Driving the news: DeJoy testified on Friday that the USPS "is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail fully and on time."

  • The postmaster general acknowledged a "dip in the level of service" in his testimony, per Fox News.

What's new: The Aug. 12 USPS briefing released by the committee marks a "sharp decline" in on-time delivery for priority mail beginning July 4. On-time priority mail deliveries fell from around 90% in early July to just under 80% by Aug. 1, the lowest delivery rate seen since at least this time last year.

  • Processing and last-mile deliveries for first class mail also declined after July 4, and dipped again in early August after making a small recovery.

The big picture: 54% of Americans polled in an online Harris Poll coronavirus survey from Aug. 14-16 said they noticed delays in mail or packages arriving at their homes over the prior few weeks.

What they're saying: “After being confronted on Friday with first-hand reports of delays across the country, the Postmaster General finally acknowledged a ‘dip’ in service, but he has never publicly disclosed the full extent of the alarming nationwide delays caused by his actions,” Oversight and Reform Committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a Saturday release.

  • DeJoy testified on Friday that Postal Service warnings to states about mail-in ballots, first reported by the Post, were made because state deadlines were too late to process votes.
  • "The Postmaster General looks forward to appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Monday," spokesperson Dave Partenheimer emailed in a statement.

The other side: "The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall," DeJoy wrote in a statement earlier this week, while noting he would halt operational changes and cost cuts to the USPS until after the 2020 election.

  • USPS rolled out a new election resource Friday that "strongly recommends that voters request ballots at the earliest point allowable, but no later than 15 days prior to the election date."
  • The USPS governing board is planning a bipartisan Election Mail Committee to oversee mail-in voting, amid scrutiny over the Trump administration's attempts to thwart mail-in ballots in November's general election.

Read the briefing:

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