There is a full press on right now to insist that there is an attack on the post office. It does exist, but many of the allegations about how it’s being attacked are completely wrong.
First, the problems associated with the post office predate the ascent of Postmaster General DeJoy. The post office officially extended their delivery times on April 17, prior to the June 15 advent of DeJoy.
There are concerns about mail-sorting machines being removed. The machines in question are thin envelope mail sorting machines; they are not equipped to handle envelopes which contain federal ballots. The guidelines for the machines are listed here, again at the USPS website. To be handled by the machines being removed, letters need to be less than 1/4″ thick. Federal ballot envelopes regularly exceed that requirement, and are thus handled by the larger machines.
The quantity of first class envelope mail – both thin and bulky – has been steadily decreasing for decades. In 2001, there were 103, 656 million pieces mailed. By 2010, that had decreased to 77,592 million. In 2019, it had dropped to 54,943 million. Assuming a proportional decrease of thin and bulky mail, that’s dropping the amount of thin mail by almost 50%. But that is an unreasonable assumption; there are typically surges in mail volume at tax time, and those are bulky; meanwhile, things like small letters have lost ground to e-mail and chats and electronic payment has taken the place of many checks and money orders to utility companies.
In short, the removal of the thin envelope mail-sorters may be the most proper and obvious cost-cutting measure available.
A similar situation arises when one considers the removal of drop boxes, which, in an age where fewer first class items are being mailed, can be expected to see reduced usage. As those boxes are required to be checked daily, if there is little mail being dropped in them it is reasonable to shave time off of a carrier’s route and have them focus instead on direct address delivery.
There are also issues with overtime hours being eliminated and new personnel not being hired. These are, again, in keeping with the operation of any business which is strapped for cash.
The post office is supposed to be self-sufficient, but it is limited in what it may charge by Congressional action. The post office has, for years, been losing money, to such a degree that President Obama proposed in 2012 that mail delivery should be restricted to five times per week. The recent actions are reasonable for any entity which is struggling to survive despite a lack of available funds.
For so long as the post office is disallowed from raising its rates to cover its costs, it is the moral imperative of Congress and the President to fund its operation. The fact that the President has voiced his approval of letting the post office be unable to fulfill its duty so as to allow him potential political gain is reprehensible. But the blame is squarely on him and his Congressional allies who refuse to allow funding… just as the blame for the continued lack of funds is squarely on the shoulders of both Democrats and Republicans alike who refuse to risk angering their constituents by signing off on the necessary rate hikes.
There may yet be a conspiracy here. There are suspicions of DeJoy because he has no postal experience and he has done nothing to publicly address the problems he walked into; efforts to overhaul the system, even if they started before he took office, have been enacted under his leadership and it is his duty to explain those efforts to the public. But as yet, there is no evidence whatsoever to support the argument that DeJoy is involved in trying to suppress any votes.