Democrats set emergency hearing with top postal officials amid fear over delayed ballots

Published by NBCNEWS.COM

Summary generated on August 16, 2020

    Democratic leaders said Sunday that they are scheduling an emergency hearing this month for top officials of the U. S. Postal Service to testify before Congress after the agency sounded the alarm about its ability to handle increased mail-in voting.

    "The president has explicitly stated his intention to manipulate the Postal Service to deny eligible voters access to the ballot in pursuit of his own re-election," said the statement, signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. , and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N. Y. , among others.

    "Alarmingly, the Postmaster General - a Trump mega-donor - has acted as an accomplice in the president's campaign to cheat in the election, as he launches sweeping new operational changes that degrade delivery standards and delay the mail."The Postal Service itself has warned that voters - even if they send in their ballots by state deadlines - may be disenfranchised in 46 states and in Washington, D. C. , by continued delays," the statement continued.

    "This constitutes a grave threat to the integrity of the election and to our very democracy.

    "The Democrats requested that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican fundraiser and top donor to President Donald Trump who took over the Postal Service in June, and Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Michael Duncan, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, testify before the House Oversight Committee on Aug. 24. The hearing, Democrats said,"will examine the sweeping operational and organizational changes at the Postal Service that experts warn could degrade delivery standards, slow the mail and potentially impair the rights of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming November elections.

    "He shouldn't be allowed to be the postmaster general.

    Numerous states recently received letters from the Postal Service warning that their vote-by-mail deadlines were too tight to ensure proper delivery.

    A number of states are expanding voting by mail because of the pandemic, seeking to prevent crowded polling places and possible spread of the coronavirus.

    Michael Mize, president of the Michigan Postal Workers Union, who has worked in the Postal Service for nearly 23 years, said the turmoil is "the strongest political attack on the Postal Service - my livelihood - that I've ever seen.

    "My opinion, the position that I've taken, is that the appointment that was made and the actions that have followed are a direct internal attack on what we do, and it makes me sick, and it makes me angry," he said.

    Mize said he still believes the Postal Service will be able to handle voting by mail just fine, even with the changes.

    As others have said, even a large increase in mail-in ballots would pale in comparison to the parcel load the Postal Service handles annually at Christmas.

    "I work with these people, and I know that they're going to do everything they can to make sure that this gets done," he said.

    "They take too much pride in it. They're not just going to buckle over and say, 'Oh, well. ' It's just not going to happen."Democrats proposed $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service.

    Concerns over the Postal Service accelerated late last week after Trump told Fox Business that voting by mail would be difficult if the emergency funding, in addition to $3. 6 billion in vote-by-mail funding, was blocked.

    "Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots," Trump said.

    "But if they don't get those two items, that means you can't have universal mail-in voting, because they're not equipped to have it."In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Trump has no problem with "No-excuse absentee" voting but opposes universal mail-in balloting.

    The president recently asked to vote by mail in Florida.

    "I'll give you that guarantee right now," Meadows said.

    "The president of the United States is not going to interfere with anybody casting their vote in a legitimate way, whether it's the post office or anything else."Meadows also suggested that Trump is open to a standalone Postal Service funding bill or one coupled with one of the president's legislative aims.

    At a news conference Saturday, Trump said that "The post office is a catastrophe" and that DeJoy "Wants to make the post office great again."Of voting by mail, the president said, "Absentee is good; mail-in, universal, is very, very bad."Despite the president's and his supporters' claims of massive fraud, there remains no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U. S. , according to numerous investigations and studies.

    Asked about the lack of evidence Sunday, Meadows said, "There's no evidence that there's not , either."