BALTIMORE (WJZ) — People rallied outside the post office in Baltimore’s Govans neighborhood Friday. Many say they have experienced delays getting their mail and are concerned about their ballots not being delivered in time for the upcoming presidential election.
“We recognize the post office is one of the most sacred institutions in our country,” said Margaret Baldridge outside the Govans Post Office.
She said she was “outraged” at the Trump Administration. “The people of this country will not stand for the sabotage of the post office, which is one of the main ways that people will vote.“
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) August 21, 2020
“The people I’ve talked to are experiencing the same things I am experiencing: It’s just late,“ said Michele Bland of west Baltimore. “I know that it’s about politics because everything is about politics. If it is not about politics, it’s about money.”
After reforms to the system that have cut postal workers’ overtime and eliminated mailboxes and sorting machines, lawmakers on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee grilled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) August 17, 2020
“As we head into the election season, I want to assure this committee, and the American public, that the Postal Service is fully capable of delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time,” DeJoy said.
Democrats fear DeJoy’s actions could disenfranchise voters, with a record number sending their ballots through the mail because of the pandemic.
DeJoy said Friday he is “extremely highly confident” the Postal Service will be able to ensure that mailed ballots sent seven days before Election Day will be processed and counted. “We will scour every plant each night leading up to Election Day,” he vowed.
He also expressed support for mail-in voting, telling senators, “I think the American public should be able to vote by mail, and the Postal Service will support it.”
That was not good enough for Maryland’s Attorney General Brian Frosh who is suing the postal service.
“I agree that USPS is ‘fully capable’ of delivering the mail. But ‘committed?’ We are not dropping our lawsuit,” he tweeted Friday.
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) August 18, 2020
Frosh told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren six sorting machines have been taken offline in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County.
DeJoy testified there are no plans to bring any of the machines taken out of service nationwide back claiming they were “not needed.”
Under questioning by the top Democrat on the committee, Michigan Senator Gary Peters, DeJoy defended the recent operational changes and his decision to suspend them until after the election. He explained his reasoning for changes such as limiting extra delivery trips and paid overtime.
“The policy was not to eliminate extra trips, it was to mitigate extra trips,” DeJoy said. He also denied that he had eliminated overtime, even though Peters noted that it had been significantly curtailed, which has led to some delays in mail delivery.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve spent $700 million on overtime,” DeJoy said.
DeJoy also bristled against insinuations from Peters that he had made any of these changes at the direction of the president.
“I have never spoken to the president about the postal service,” DeJoy said, adding that he also had never spoken to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the changes.
He also called it an “outrageous claim” to say that he was in any way trying to slow delivery of election mail.
President Trump has been critical of voting by mail and said Friday the results of the upcoming election could be in doubt for weeks.
‘Save The Post Office’ Rallies are scheduled in Baltimore and across Central Maryland on Saturday—including at the main Baltimore post office on Fayette Street at 11am.