The US Postal Service has said it will stop removing letter collection boxes in some Western states following complaints that the disappearance of boxes in some areas could hamper voters from mailing their completed ballots.
A spokesperson for the USPS’ Western region Rod Spurgeon told CNN in a statement late Friday that the mail service would stop removing letter collection boxes until after the election in 16 states and parts of two others.
The USPS had continued to make headlines earlier Friday following reports that in the last week the mail service had started removing letter collection boxes in at least four states, including New York, Oregon, Montana and Indiana.
It remains unclear if the USPS will stall mailbox removal nationwide.
Kim Frum, a spokesperson based at USPS headquarters, told CNN that the removal and installation of almost 142,000 letter collection boxes nationwide “has been based on mail volume received in those boxes.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden brought attention to the disappearing mailboxes during an online fundraiser Friday calling it “bizarre.”
“They’re going around literally with tractor trailers picking up mailboxes,” Biden said.
Trump’s attack on the mail service appears to be part of a campaign tactic to suppress mailed ballots particularly in Democratic-run states to increase his chances of a win amid unfavorable poll numbers.
After Trump installed his own ally, Louis DeJoy as postmaster general in June, DeJoy has pushed policy changes that many lawmakers say could have a negative effect on the mail service’s timely delivery of election mail.
Union officials told CNN that the USPS began informing postal workers in West Virginia, Florida and Missouri that retail operating hours will be slashed even as the November election draws near and many Americans prepare to mail their ballots rather than casting them in person amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The USPS’ internal investigator announced Friday that it would initiate a probe into the former Republican mega-donor’s controversial policy changes.
President of the American Postal Workers Union Mark Dimondstein on Thursday criticized the Trump administration during an MSNBC interview for holding the postal service “hostage” when it is needed most and for attempting to suppress mailed votes.
“It’s very disturbing to postal workers who are very dedicated to the people of the country, to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services,” Dimonstein said.
“We call it our DNA. Never delay mail,” Dimondstein added. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that DeJoy’s recent changes to the service and any withholding of funding, will likely impact the ability of postal workers to accomplish that task.
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