The potent combination of a history-defining presidential election and a world-altering pandemic has changed into even The United States’s mail contrivance into a political lightning rod.
The embattled head of the U.S. Postal Service, Postmaster Normal Louis DeJoy, is keep to testify Friday sooner than a Senate panel, marking his first public appearance since being accused of the usage of the Postal Service to lend a hand increase President Donald Trump’s reelection dispute.
Democrats are anticipated to press him over Trump’s fill attacks on the Postal Service, in conjunction with spurious claims that the agency is sick-geared as much as prevent in trend election fraud if millions of coronavirus-cautious voters capture to solid their ballots through mail in November.
Trump has taken intelligent aim at “mail-in voting,” which – in accordance to him – takes operate when states proactively ship ballots to registered voters. He insists that contrivance is diverse and blueprint more problematic than “absentee voting,” when –in accordance to his distinction – voters ask ballots be sent to them.
Nonetheless whether it’s “mail-in voting” or “absentee voting,” most ballots are returned thru the mail, and states fill established safeguards to lend a hand compare that every voter is eligible to vote and casts simplest one ballot.
Experts warn, alternatively, that after the Postal Service is slowed, some ballots can be delivered after key time points in time, rendering them invalid – so voters need to ask and return ballots early.
How did we salvage here? Right here is a timeline of what’s unfolded to this level this year:
January: The U.S. Postal Service persevered to face valuable financial losses and criticism from Trump, who repeatedly called on the agency to payment elevated costs to companies address Amazon, which owns the Washington Post and whose proprietor Jeff Bezos has a fraught relationship with Trump.
The growing COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a steep decline in mail, dealing one other fundamental financial blow to the Postal Service. Home Democrats unsuccessfully tried to produce the agency with tens of billions of bucks in emergency reduction. As a replace, Congress well-liked a $10 billion loan to the agency, which critics acknowledged would simplest push the agency extra into debt.
By uninteresting March: Because the COVID-19 pandemic unfold across The United States, questions mounted over how voters could maybe safely solid ballots in fundamental elections and then within the general election in November. Many states began purchasing for methods to enlarge their vote-by-mail capacity.
March 30: Talking to Fox News, Trump indicated that he believes rising pollaccess nationwide would lend a hand Democrats. Criticizing Democratic proposals for a serious pandemic reduction invoice, Trump acknowledged: “The things they’d in there were crazy. That they had ranges of voting that in case you ever agreed to it, you’d by no contrivance fill a Republican elected on this country again.”
March 31: Performing on MSNBC, Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., acknowledged the country wished to prepare for “vote by mail,” in conjunction with by offering emergency funding to the Postal Service so it will maybe maybe operate tools “the keep it needs to be.”
April 7: Trump renewed his calls for the Postal Service to elevate its costs for companies address Amazon, announcing, “We’re attempting into it, and we’ve been pushing them now for over a year.”
April 8: Trump tweeted: “Republicans need to fight very laborious by approach of reveal wide mail-in voting. … Tidy doable for voter fraud, and for whatever purpose, doesn’t figure out successfully for Republicans.”
April 9: The outgoing head of the Postal Service, Postmaster Normal Megan Brennan, told a Home panel that – after losing $13 billion attributable to the pandemic – the Postal Service will “urge out of cash this fiscal year” with out lend a hand from Congress and the Trump administration. She requested for $25 billion in emergency funds and one other $25 billion to modernize the Postal Service.
April 24: While signing a pandemic stimulus invoice at the White Home, Trump acknowledged, “The Postal Service is a shaggy dog sage,” claiming agency officials received’t payment Amazon more which capability of they are “cushty” with the firm and “don’t deserve to insult Amazon.” Trump warned that if the Postal Service doesn’t elevate costs on Amazon, “I’m now not signing the relaxation and I’m now not authorizing [the Treasury Department] to realize the relaxation.”
Leisurely April: A member of the board of governors, David C. Williams, resigned, reportedly over considerations that the Postal Service was being improperly politicized.
Will also impartial 6: The board of governors announced that Louis DeJoy, a businessman who helped elevate funds for Republicans and donated greater than $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund, would change Brennan as the original postmaster overall.
Will also impartial 29: The Postal Service issued a letter to reveal and native elections officials, telling them to account for “the Postal Service’s transport requirements” when “informing voters easy easy ideas to successfully take part in an election the usage of the mail.” In affirm, the letter acknowledged, “mail processing times need to be regarded as as when communicating time points in time,” and “voters need to mail their ballots at least one week sooner than [their state’s] due date.”
June 15: DeJoy was sworn-in as postmaster overall.
June 29: Enthusiastic by a conception in Pennsylvania to keep up descend-containers across the reveal for voters to close their ballots within the November election, Trump’s reelection advertising and marketing and marketing campaign and the Republican Nationwide Committee filed a federal lawsuit in search of to block the disaster, claiming the descend-containers “toughen[ ] the possibility that unfounded or otherwise ineligible ballots can be solid and counted.”
Mid-July: The Postal Service began implementing an “operational pivot,” prohibiting time beyond legislation pay, limiting obvious operations, and telling staff in one memo to rob the “now not conventional” action of leaving mail at distribution facilities for one other day if they are within the lend a hand of schedule. (The memo was received by The Washington Post.)
Leisurely July: The Postal Service issued one other spherical of letters to reveal elections officials, warning at least 40 states that their “time points in time for soliciting for and casting Mail-In ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s transport requirements.”
July 30: The Washington Post reported that, within the wake of basically the most up-to-date inner modifications, the Postal Service was “experiencing days-long backlogs of mail across the country,” and that workers scared “the insurance policies could maybe undermine their capability to affirm ballots on time for the November election.” Democrats on Capitol Hill cried spoiled, framing the agency’s modifications as an effort to disenfranchise voters.
July 30: Trump tweeted: “With Universal Mail-In Balloting (now not Absentee Balloting, which is correct), 2020 can be basically the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in History. It is going to be a mountainous embarrassment to the US. Delay the Election except of us can successfully, security and safely vote???”
July 31: Below rising tension, the White Home issued a assertion announcing any recommendation that Trump sought to uninteresting mail transport “is baseless and absurd.” As a replace, the White Home acknowledged, Trump is “demanding considerable wished and long uninteresting trade.” DeJoy later issued an identical denial, announcing that whereas his agency was “to delivery with of a transformative project,” no choices could maybe be made “in accordance to partisanship.”
Aug. 3: Two months after voting websites in Nevada were plagued with long lines at some level of the presidential primaries, the reveal’s governor signed into legislation a invoice requiring that mail-in ballots be sent to all registered voters at some level of states of emergency, akin to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aug. 4: Trump’s reelection advertising and marketing and marketing campaign and the Republican Nationwide Committee filed a federal lawsuit in opposition to Nevada elections officials, in search of to block the legislation from being applied. In their lawsuit, the advertising and marketing and marketing campaign and RNC alleged that the original legislation would create “voter fraud and other ineligible voting inevitable.”
Aug. 5: Noting on Fox News that “we’re in courtroom” in opposition to Nevada, Trump acknowledged the Postal Service is “now not geared as much as address” the millions of ballots that can be mailed for the November election. (The agency handles greater than 180 billion gadgets of mail every year.)
Aug. 7: The Washington Post reported that DeJoy had “reassigned or displaced” 23 postal executives, in conjunction with the two executives overseeing day-to-day operations.
Aug. 10: Warning in opposition to “a rigged election,” Trump insisted at some level of a press conference that “mail-in voting” is “very vulnerable.” “Our contrivance is now not geared up for it, the Post Direct of work is now not geared up for it, and of us need to vote address they did in World War I and World War II,” he acknowledged.
Aug. 12: Speaking at the White Home, Trump criticized Democratic lawmakers who were in search of $25 billion for the Postal Service “so the Post Direct of work can address this spacious quantity of ballots.” He praised DeJoy as “a mountainous person, a mountainous businessman.”
Aug. 13: Performing on Fox Change Network, Trump conceded that Democrats “need that cash in characterize to create the Post Direct of work work.” So, the president acknowledged, “if they don’t salvage these [funds] that contrivance that you just need to’t fill universal mail-in voting.” He called the map back “one of the most sticking points” in negotiations over a considerable elevated pandemic reduction invoice. “If we don’t create a deal … that contrivance they are able to’t fill universal mail-in voting,” he acknowledged. At a press conference the an identical day, Trump acknowledged “mail-in voting” was “a tool riddled by fraud and corruption,” nonetheless that “absentee ballots are dazzling.”
Aug. 13: Republican Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, sent a letter to DeJoy, urging him to “promptly address the delays in mail transport which fill occurred following fresh operational modifications.” Noting that he “soundless has now not detailed to the final public” the modifications being made, Collins acknowledged “the aim of striking the USPS lend a hand on a financially sustainable course … can’t be accomplished by shortchanging provider to the final public.”
Aug. 13: Native data outlets in Oregon, Montana and other states reported that – in light of Trump’s fresh feedback – some web web page residents were fervent after seeing Postal Service mailboxes being eradicated from neighborhood streets. An agency spokesman acknowledged the actions were half of a “routine” effort to purchase “redundant/seldom old sequence containers,” especially with a decline in mail quantity, nonetheless Democratic lawmakers puzzled whether the actions were politically motivated.
Mid-August: Native and national data reports alleged that mail-sorting machines were being shut down – even taken aside – at Postal Service facilities across the country. The Washington Post reported that the Postal Service had decided to “decommission” 10 p.c of its sorting machines. (It stays unclear why sorting machines could maybe be eradicated.)
Aug. 16: The Postal Service announced that it was halting the elimination of sequence containers except after the election, announcing in a assertion, “Given the fresh customer considerations the Postal Service will postpone striking off containers for a period of 90 days whereas we review our possibilities considerations.”
Aug. 17: A community of Democratic reveal attorneys overall announced that they are able to be filing a federal lawsuit in opposition to the Trump administration over the Postal Service’s fresh modifications. (The lawsuit was filed the next day, alleging the Postal Service’s modifications violate voters’ constitutional rights, did now not note correct procedures, and must be blocked.) In response, the White Home acknowledged such a “politically motivated lawsuits are now not rooted in giving Americans the energy of the vote.”
Aug. 18: DeJoy issued a public assertion, announcing, “To lend a hand a long way from even the appears to be of any impact on election mail, I am suspending [the new] initiatives except after the election is concluded.” He acknowledged he needs to “guarantee all Americans” that retail hours “is now not going to trade,” “mail processing tools and blue sequence containers will remain the keep they are,” and that over time can be “well-liked as wished.” “The Postal Service is ready lately to address whatever quantity of election mail it receives this descend,” he insisted. The assertion did now not reveal whether modifications already made could maybe be reversed, and data reports since his assertion fill highlighted more alleged cases of decommissioned sorting machines.
Aug. 19: DeJoy spoke with Pelosi in regards to basically the most up-to-date traits. In accordance to Pelosi’s account of the conversation, DeJoy “frankly admitted that he had no contrivance of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure which were eradicated and that plans for enough time beyond legislation … are now not within the works.” Pelosi acknowledged the “damage [was] already wreaked.”
ABC News’ Lucien Bruggeman, Devin Dwyer, Ben Gittleson and Marilyn Heck contributed to this chronicle.