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Maryland Lawmakers Slam Trump Administration’s USPS Changes

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Maryland lawmakers slammed the Trump administration’s service changes to the U.S. Postal Service on Monday, categorizing those changes as attacks on democracy.

The agency has warned that it cannot guarantee that all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive at election offices with enough time to be counted. 

That warning comes amid a high-stakes election cycle and the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused many Americans to consider casting a ballot by mail – the voting method recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  – instead of potentially being exposed to the virus at in-person polling places. Elections officials in Maryland and beyond expect an avalanche of mail-in ballots.

“We need to make sure that we protect people's mail and delivery on time, as well as protect our democratic rights in this critical election,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen said at a Monday news conference attended by Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young, U.S. Representative Kweisi Mfume, and Sen. Ben Cardin.

Last week, the lawmakers sent a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, describing “major mail delivery issues” affecting 14 localities in Baltimore, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County. Four mail processing machines in Baltimore were taken out of use in early August.  

President Trump has, without evidence, claimed mail ballots are fraudulent. In June, he appointed Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor and business executive, as the new postmaster general. The president tasked DeJoy with making the USPS more profitable, a move advocates have decried citing its role as a government service rather than a business. DeJoy had banned overtime and changed delivery policies. 

“We didn’t have these problems until this new postmaster general,” Mike Smith, president of Baltimore’s chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said. “You can’t tell us that’s coincidental. His policies are counterproductive to the delivery of the mail, hence the delays we are experiencing.” 

“You don’t pivot in the middle of the pandemic,” said Courtney Jenkins, the legislative director of the American Postal Workers Union Local 181 in Baltimore. “You don’t attack democracy in the middle of a pandemic. Normal people, working people are relying on the Postal Service in this very moment.”

 

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.