President Donald Trump’s Postmaster General is quietly removing mail sorting machines and has scheduled the removal of hundreds more from USPS facilities across the country. The action, which is both unprecedented and unexplained, comes barely months before the 2020 November election, which begins in weeks when early voting starts in some states.
“In many cases, these are the same machines that would be tasked with sorting ballots, calling into question promises made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that the USPS has ‘ample capacity’ to handle the predicted surge in mail-in ballots,” VICE’s Motherboard reports. “Motherboard identified 19 mail sorting machines from five processing facilities across the U.S. that either have already been removed or are scheduled to be in the near future.”
That may not seem like a lot, and as Motherboard notes, “the Postal Service operates hundreds of distribution facilities around the country.”
But The Guardian’s voting rights reporter Sam Levine has posted what he reports is a letter and attached spreadsheets detailing where literally hundreds of USPS machines are slated to be removed, from where, and when.
Here is a June 17 USPS letter outlining where the agency plans to reduce mail sorting equipment https://t.co/FUqzoMhbNh
— Sam Levine (@srl) August 13, 2020
NCRM examined the spreadsheets, which refer to the removal of a total of 671 mail sorting machines with names like Automated Flat Sorting Machine (AFSMs), and Delivery Bar Code Sorters (DBCSs).
These are used to sort mostly letter-sized, flat mail pieces – the exact kind that, say, voting ballots would be sent in.
The letter, which was sent to the President of the American Postal Workers Union, cites only the “reduction in letter and flat mail volume,” but does not say why the machines are being removed now. The schedule calls for all 671 machines to be removed by September 30, which in some states is when or just after early voting begins.
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