Michigan’s Sen. Gary Peters and AG Dana Nessel are both pursuing investigations into the Postal Service, while the Postmaster General delays policies that have been causing mail to slow down.
LANSING, MI — A lawsuit announced Tuesday by Attorney General Dana Nessel and a Congressional investigation from Sen. Gary Peters is already making traction in the world of the United States Post Office.
CNN reports that mere hours after the lawsuit was filed, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy suspended the controversial changes to postal policy that led to the lawsuit. This includes the removal of mail sorting machines and disallowing overtime — two policies which have caused serious slowdowns at the Postal Service.
But, the suspension only lasts until after the Nov. 3 election. Far from reversing the policies, DeJoy has kicked the can down the road, meaning all the problems the Postal Service currently faces will reemerge Nov. 4 under DeJoy’s changes.
What Michigan Leaders Are Calling For
Following 10,000 ballots arriving too late to be counted in Michigan’s August primary, Sen. Peters launched an investigation into the issue, asking for the stories of everyday Michiganders who have been harmed by postal delays. Peters has been drawing attention to the Postal Services’ troubles since DeJoy’s appointment.
“It is essential that the Postal Service not slow down mail or in any way compromise service for small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail,” wrote Peters. “Congress, the public, and postal stakeholders should be fully apprised of any proposed changes to postal services, particularly if they will impact the speed of mail delivery for postal customers.”
Peters has been pressing for more transparency and gaining more information about DeJoy’s changes to the Postal Service and gathering testimonials from Michiganders relating to the ramifications of postal delays on people across the state.
That investigation dovetailed with Nessel’s lawsuit.
“AG Nessel appreciates Sen. Peters’ work on bringing this issue to the forefront and raising awareness about the harms Michiganders face from delayed mail service,” Nessel’s press secretary Ryan Jarvi told The ‘Gander. “Mr. DeJoy’s unlawful changes to Postal Service operations delay the timely delivery of correspondence, benefits payments, medication and election ballots.”
The move by DeJoy doesn’t mean the end of the story as it isn’t reversing DeJoy’s policy changes, but rather only suspending them until after the election. And as CNN reports, some of what DeJoy’s done might not be able to be undone before the election.
For instance, the removal of sorting machines was already largely completed before DeJoy backed down from his policy changes. Crain’s reports that of the over 475 machines removed nationwide, at least ten were in Michigan. CNN pointed out that reversing this policy change before Election Day would be a massive challenge for the Postal Service.
The Postal Service removed more than 10% of its Delivery Barcode Sorter machines since June. Those machines are used to quickly sort mail, including absentee ballots.
Voting By Mail Is Personal for Trump
The use to sort ballots was central to the reason President Donald Trump, who appointed DeJoy, wanted them gone.
“They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes, universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion for the Post Office. They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said on Fox Business. “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.”
Trump requested his own absentee ballot to vote by mail in Florida’s primary, reports USA Today. He has voted by mail before, despite his factually incorrect claims intended to impugn the security of the mail-in voting process.
That has major ramifications for the general election.
“As our country nears the November general election, and continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely there will be more absentee voter participation,” said Jarvi. “That makes reliable and timely delivery from our Postal Service even more important.”
And the damage might already be done. According to SSRS polling, voter confidence in the accuracy of the election has dropped dramatically since 2016. Reversing the policy changes that delay mail-in ballots isn’t enough on its own to restore that confidence. More than half of Americans say they don’t think President Donald Trump will concede should he lose.
SSRS data also shows a national mirror to Michigan data reported by Lake Effect, saying that most people have an interest in voting before Election Day through an absentee process thanks largely to the pandemic coronavirus.
Postmaster General DeJoy will testify to Congress on Friday.