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USPS crisis: Why email is delayed, how it can affect the choice and what is done about it



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How will the post office handle postal votes this autumn?

Jason Redmond / Getty Images

This story is part of Val 2020, CNET̵

7;s coverage of the introduction of the vote in November.

This fall, with concerns around covid-19 still high, more than 80 million voters are expected to do so vote by mail to avoid polling stations and the risk of infection.

Instead of increasing its ability to take on what could be twice as many ballot papers compared to the last presidential election, the US Postal Service has taken a series of steps this summer that could dramatically cut its ability to handle the unprecedented number of ballots it will get. And while Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told Congress he intends to do so pause planned changes to the service, which includes the closure of mail processing machines, until after the November 3 election, some cities report that the USPS continues to cut back on services.

Here’s what we know about submission and absence and how you can make sure your vote counts this fall.






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Why are the USPS measures so large?

The cuts originally planned by DeJoy, announced in June, include taking 671 of its high-capacity mail sorting machines offline, removing collection boxes in western states, limiting overtime and reducing post office opening hours.

The postal service has informed states that they can not guarantee that votes will reach voters before the election. In letters sent to 46 states and the District of Columbia, warned the postal service “there is a significant risk that the voter will not have enough time to complete and email the completed ballot … in time for it to reach the state’s return deadline.”

These moves, which the post office had said were needed to “run more efficiently,” come when Trump makes conflicting and often false comments about the post office. He has threatened to turn off funding for the service and followed shortly after tweeting that he wants to “SAVE THE POST OFFICE!”

The result of all planned changes before the election, according to election lawyer Marc Elias, is that the postal service would not be prepared to handle the sharp increase in postal elections in November. “The Trump administration has turned to weakening the US postal service in a cynical attempt to prevent people from voting,” Elias wrote last week.

Why is the postal service at the center of the debate?

The US Postal Service, which was established under the US Constitution, has had major financial difficulties for several years. It lost $ 69 billion from 2007 to 2018. The coronavirus pandemic has further burdened the service, limiting the volume of major money makers – first-class and marketing mail – because people are at home. The pandemic also turned funding for the service into a bargaining chip, with the White House and Congress wrestling with how – and sometimes if – they would fund the service.

In addition to operational changes, DeJoy has redesigned the management of the USPS by removing or redeploying more than two dozen top executives. Critics called the move a “Friday night massacre.”

The changes cause significant delays in the post, say postal workers. But what caught the attention of democratic lawmakers was the postal service’s warning that it could not guarantee that it would be able to handle the flood of absenteeism in the November election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats said the changes posed a “serious threat to the integrity of the election and to our democracy.”

Pelosi recalled house members from recess to send a USPS rescue bill and to conduct a hearing with DeJoy on his actions.

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A record number of voters will be able to vote by ballot this autumn.

Sarah Tew / CNET

What would the USPS have to do with submission election fraud?

Trump has been wrongly claiming for several weeks that a general vote will lead to widespread voting fraud.

Each state allows voters to vote by mail, ranging from absentee voting, which allows voters to request ballots by mail because they will not be able to vote in person, to what Trump calls “universal mail-in voting”, election officials automatically send vote-by-mail ballots to each person on the registration rollers.

There is no proofhowever, to support the president’s claims. “Letter voting fraud is extremely rare,” reported the Brennan Center, a non-partisan political institute. “None of the five states that primarily hold their elections by mail have had any voting scandals since that change was made,” the center reported.

Members of Trump’s own party do not agree with the president’s claims. “I do not know of any evidence that voting rights by mail would increase voting rights,” Senator Mitt Romney said in an interview with the Sutherland Institute this month.

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Congress will hold a hearing on how the postal service will handle votes in this election.

Caroline Brehman / Getty Images

How can you make sure your vote counts?

If you are worried that your ballot may not be counted this fall but want to avoid the crowd on election day, Election Attorney Elias recommends three ways in addition to submitting your vote to ensure your vote is counted.

Vote early in personForty states allow voters to vote in elections up to 45 days before election day, so they can avoid crowds.

Use a ballot box: Many states and counties provide election rounds for voters to return their post-in ballot without having to email it.

Cast your ballot at a polling station or polling station“Almost all states allow voters to return a delivered ballot in person to their local polling station before or before election day,” Elias said, and many states allow voters to submit their signed and sealed ballots at any location.

For more, here is the difference between absence and postal voting, how we are going to vote this fall and how Facebook helps you find election information.




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