USPS to Pause Removal of Mail Collection Boxes Until After 2020 Election Following Outcry
"After the election, we're going to take a look at operations and see what we need and don't need," said a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service
In response to growing public concerns about voter suppression, including President Donald Trump's continued attacks on mail-in voting, the United States Postal Service said it will postpone its plan to remove or relocate mail collection bins.
Shortly after CNN reported on Friday that the Postal Service had begun reducing hours and removing mail collection boxes in a number of states, a USPS spokesperson announced that the push will be halted until after Nov. 3.
"We are not going to be removing any boxes," Spurgeon said in a statement, according to the outlet. "After the election, we're going to take a look at operations and see what we need and don’t need."
The removal freeze applies to 16 states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Portions of Wisconsin and Missouri are also included.
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, spoke critically about the removal of mail bins and the timing of the initiative during a campaign event on Friday.
“I was joking earlier with a couple on the call. I wonder if you’re outside trying to hold down your mailboxes. They’re going around literally with tractor trailers picking up mailboxes," said Biden, 77, per the Washington Post. "You oughta go online and check out what they’re doing in Oregon. I mean, it’s bizarre!"
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In recent months, President Donald Trump has continued to show distaste for mail-in voting, the option many Americans will likely turn to in November amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In addition to falsely claiming that mail-in voting will lead to fraudulent results, Trump, 74, has previously claimed that the USPS doesn't have the wherewithal to accommodate the surge in mail-in voting heading into the election — and has even suggested the idea of delaying the election, which he does not have the authority to do.
USPS has denied the claim that they will not be able to accommodate the increased volume of mail. "The Postal Service has ample capacity to adjust our nationwide processing and delivery network to meet projected Election and Political Mail volume, including any additional volume that may result as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic," they said in a previous statement to CNN.
Singer Jason Mraz, who shared on Friday that he used to work for the USPS, as did his father, has also assured his fans that based on his experiences, the service would not "fail" during an election because of high volume.
"Do not think for a minute that this time tested system would fail us during an election," he wrote. "A government by & for the people would make sure the postal service is running at full capacity instead of closing branches and turning off AUTOMATED sorting machines which make sorting faster and easier - but - suspiciously, we have an administration trying to undermine the hardworking service men & women who make the USPS possible."
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Former President Barack Obama has also criticized Trump, saying in a recent podcast episode that the current president is trying to "kneecap" the U.S. Postal Service.
"What we've seen in a way that is unique to modern political history is a president who is explicit in trying to discourage people from voting," Obama said in an interview with former campaign manager David Plouffe. "What we've never seen before is a president say, 'I'm going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to encourage voting and I will be explicit about the reason I'm doing it.'"
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement addressing what they called an "assault" on the Postal Service by Trump. The politicians explained that the USPS "provides services that are critical to the lives and livelihoods of the American people."
“House and Senate Democrats call on the President to immediately cease his assault on the Postal Service, make clear that he will allow the 2020 election to proceed without his sabotage tactics and enable the American people the same opportunity he and the First Lady requested this week to vote by absentee ballot,” the statement said.