As November election gets closer, Postal Service continues to see delays

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With just 66 days until an election that may be largely decided by mail-in vote, the US Postal Service is coming under renewed scrutiny.

Cost-cutting measures that were supposed to be suspended last week are reportedly still impacting the Philadelphia area.

Postal union leaders from several states, including Pennsylvania, tell ABC News that despite assurances by the Postmaster-General, they have seen few concrete steps to reverse or halt a set of cost-cutting measures that have slowed down mail services.

Action News obtained pictures of overflowing mail bins from the Philadelphia Processing and Distribution Center along Lindbergh Boulevard.

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Philadelphia Postal Union President, Nick Casselli, shared the photos and say they are proof the mail delays continue.

Casselli wasn't available for an on-camera interview but by phone told Action News images like these are the result of directives from the Postmaster General to reduce overtime, cut mail carriers and remove mail processing equipment.

Many believe making drastic changes to the mail service in the middle of a pandemic, when many are expected to vote by mail, will put votes in jeopardy and disrupt the November election.

"I already feel like people don't think it is fair. I personally have gotten a mail-in ballot but I plan on taking it in in-person be sure you can do that and I have been encouraged people on Facebook to do that and just not trusting the postal service and not giving a middleman the opportunity to intervene," said voter Rebeca Barnes.

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"It is going to be just like the last election, everybody is going to be in shock, especially if the election doesn't go the way the polls say they should go," said voter James Ware.

In a recent congressional hearing, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was grilled by lawmakers about operational changes. He blames delays on postal employees being intimated by the pandemic and not showing up to work.

"Employee availability average has dropped across the nation about four percent. But when you go into some of these hotspots, Philadelphia, Detroit, there as much as 20 to 25 percent," said DeJoy.

Amid public pressure and state lawsuits, including one filed by Pennsylvania, to reverse the postmaster's initiatives, DeJoy says he would suspend his cost-cutting measures until after the election. Despite that promise postal leaders say nothing has changed and mail continues to pile up. It remains to be seen if this will impact mail-in voting.

"I don't think the pandemic should stand in the way of us being able to take a ballot in and place it, you know. I think there are ways to do that hygienically and I don't think we should be forced to mail it in," said Barnes.

Action News reached out to the United States Postal Service about the continued delays, a spokesperson referred us to the Postmaster's Congressional Testimony.

Despite delays and disruptions with the mail, the Postmaster maintains the postal service is ready to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives.

Links: https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2020/0818-postmaster-general-louis-dejoy-statement.htm
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