U.S. Postal Service puts changes on hold after mail-in voting outcry
By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday suspended all mail service changes until after the November election, bowing to an outcry by Democrats that the moves appeared to be an attempt to boost President Donald Trump's re-election chances.
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday suspended all mail service changes until after the November election, bowing to an outcry by Democrats that the moves appeared to be an attempt to boost President Donald Trump's re-election chances.
The reversal follows charges by Democrats and others that service cuts could slow the handling of mail-in ballots, the use of which is expected to skyrocket for the election as the coronavirus pandemic raises fears of crowds.
These critics have accused the Republican president of trying to hobble the Postal Service to suppress mail-in voting as he trails Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
"I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded," DeJoy said in a statement, adding that the changes are to "avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail."
DeJoy, a major political donor and ally of Trump, assumed the job in June.
DeJoy also said that the Postal Service will not change retail hours at post offices as well as that mail collection boxes will remain where they are and no mail processing facilities will be closed.
The reversal followed a lengthy call by the postal board of governors on Monday night, two people briefed on the matter said.
Trump said last week he was against Democratic efforts to include funds for the Postal Service and election infrastructure in coronavirus relief legislation because he wanted to limit mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier on Tuesday, states including Washington, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York said they were planning legal moves to block the Postal Service changes.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro suggested he might welcome DeJoy's proposed actions.
"I'll believe it when I see it," Shapiro said. "Hopefully the American people can breathe a sigh of relief. But I will not let my foot off the gas so long as the postal officials continue to violate the law."
Trump has repeatedly and without evidence claimed that mail balloting is vulnerable to fraud. Voting by mail is nothing new in the United States, and one in four voters cast ballots that way in 2016.
Democrats have raised concerns that Postal Service cost cutting could lead to missed or delayed ballots. They have pointed to reductions in overtime, restrictions on extra mail transportation trips and new mail sorting and delivery policies as changes that threaten to slow mail delivery - and in some cases, already have.
DeJoy is scheduled to testify on Friday before the Republican-led Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, spokesmen for the committee and the Postal Service said. DeJoy also is scheduled to testify on Monday before the Democratic-led House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee.
Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union that represents more than 200,000 employees, told Fox News that DeJoy's policy changes "are truly slowing down mail, the customers see it ... the postal workers see it - mail is getting all backed up."
(Reporting by David Shepardson, additional reporting by Tom Hals, Karen Freifeld, Jonathan Stempel and David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Will Dunham)
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