Newly-Installed Postmaster General Denies Mail Delivery Is Being Slowed To Tilt Election

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 05: U.S. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy arrives at a meeting at the office of Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the U.S. Capitol August 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Negotiations ... WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 05: U.S. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy arrives at a meeting at the office of Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the U.S. Capitol August 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for an agreement on how to move forward on a new relief package to help people and businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic continue today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy denied on Friday that he was taking actions at the agency at President Trump’s behest, and pushed back on allegations that he was slowing down mail delivery to hamper the surge in absentee voting expected this fall.

His comments at a public meeting of the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors nonetheless put election officials on notice that it was ultimately their responsibility to make sure their vote-by-mail procedures were realistic about the postal service’s own capabilities.

“If public policy makers choose to utilize the mail as a part of their election system, we will do everything we can to deliver election mail in a timely manner consistent with our operational standards,” he said. “We do ask election officials and voters to be mindful of the time that it takes for us to deliver ballots, whether it is a blank ballot going to a voter or a completed ballot going back to election officials.”

DeJoy’s comments come as his tenure leading the postal service — a tenure that only started in June — has brought the agency increased scrutiny and criticism.

Lawmakers of both parties have called on him to reverse operational changes that appear to have slowed delivery in parts of the country, and Democrats also want DeJoy — a GOP mega-donor — to appear before Congress to testify next month.

President Trump, meanwhile, has continued to rail against vote-by-mail while suggesting that the U.S. Postal Service, which has long attracted his ire, was not up to the task of facilitating elections. DeJoy distanced himself from that point as well on Friday.

“Although there will likely be an unprecedented increase in election mail volume due to the pandemic, the Postal Service has ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on-time in accordance with our delivery standards, and we will do so,” he said. “However, as discussed, we cannot correct the errors of the Election Boards if they fail to deploy processes that take our normal processing and delivery standards into account.”

Internal documents obtained last month by the Washington Post and TPM suggested that, in an effort to stamp out overtime, USPS employees were being told to leave mail behind if finishing its processing would knock them off their delivery schedules.

USPS has denied that those documents, and other reported changes, amounted to official agency policy. But Democratic congressional leaders said Thursday that DeJoy had admitted to them that institutional changes had been implemented since he took over as postmaster general.

In his comments Friday, DeJoy fired back at the attacks he had gotten from Congress over the reported delays in mail delivery.

DeJoy called on lawmakers to take legislative action that would shore up USPS’ finances, rather “than sensationalizing isolated operational incidents that I acknowledge can occur, and have always occurred in a business of our size and scope, or attempting to impose unfunded mandates unrelated to any postal policies.”

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