Problems with the Postal Service are getting worse

Some say that recent delays in the mail are part of an effort by President Trump to sabotage mail-in ballots in the November election. | Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

As November nears, the Postal Service is facing a crisis that could interfere with the election.

The United States Postal Service is dealing with crippling backlogs of letters and packages. A postmaster in upstate New York recently told their union that the regular mail was two days behind and, for the first time in their career, Express Priority Mail was not going out on time. Despite a surge in package delivery during the pandemic, postal workers are no longer able to work overtime, and fewer mail trucks are on the road. If your own mail seems delayed or unpredictable, it’s not a one-off problem.
Mail service has been disrupted nationwide in recent weeks due to a series of factors. While the USPS has been suffering financially for years, the coronavirus pandemic has delivered an existential threat to the agency. The self-funded Postal Service has been seeking billions in aid from Congress — an effort that’s been stymied by President Trump, who has long had a contentious relationship with the USPS and has pushed to privatize it . And now, the USPS is adjusting to cost-cutting policies put in place by its new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who is a top Trump donor and longtime Republican fundraiser.
DeJoy announced a major restructuring of the Postal Service in a memo released on August 7. The plan involves the reassignment of 23 postal executives in an overhaul that, according to the Washington Post , “deemphasizes decades’ worth of institutional postal knowledge” and “centralizes power around DeJoy.” The shift in power stands to further complicate the new postmaster general’s relationship with Democrats in Congress, who want him investigated.
The Postal Service’s problems have continued to batter its reputation, as news emerged August 14 that the agency sent a letter to 46 states and Washington, DC, in late July warning it could not guarantee the on-time delivery of all of their mail-in ballots and calling for states to reconsider their ballot deadlines. Records show that these warnings were planned before the recent cost-cutting measures were implemented, meaning that the present delays could slow down the delivery of ballots even more. Among those measures are the removal of 10 percent of the Postal Service’s high-speed sorting machines. A large number of these machines, which process flat mail like ballots, are being removed from key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida.
All of this means the future of the Postal Service is in jeopardy. It was actually in big trouble months ago , when postal leaders warned that without intervention from Congress, the USPS could run out of cash as soon as September. What’s happening now is even more urgent. Decisions being made by Trump...