RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Friday that the U.S. Postal Service will be able to handle the expected surge in mail-in ballots this year, some North Carolina lawmakers said that assurance does not go far enough.
The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote Saturday on a bill to provide $25 billion in emergency funding for the postal service, which the Postal Service Board of Governors has requested, and to block any further changes at the agency that could impact service.
“You can’t just talk about. You’ve got to be about it. And, we’ve got to see and make sure that that’s happening,” said Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC 12th). “We don’t have full knowledge of what all the disruptions have been.”
During testimony before a Senate committee Friday, DeJoy said, “As we head into the election season, I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time. This sacred duty is my number one priority between now and Election Day.”
DeJoy, who is a Republican donor from North Carolina, said he himself has voted by mail “for a number of years.” He added, “I think the American public should be able to vote by mail and Postal Service will also support it.”
Earlier this week, DeJoy released a statement saying he would hold off on any operational changes at USPS until after the election is over.
Adams said: “The fact that I’m still getting calls, evidently the message has not trickled down to where it’s supposed to go.”
Earlier this week, Adams led a protest in Charlotte where local leaders of the American Postal Workers Union said seven mail sorting machines had been removed from a facility in the Queen City. USPS employees have said overtime is being cut back and restrictions are being implemented on making extra trips to deliver mail that comes in late.
The changes have received greater attention in the last few weeks as President Donald Trump has resisted efforts by Congressional Democrats to provide more funding for USPS while making unsubstantiated claims that states seeking to move to all-mail elections will lead to widespread fraud.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) joined with attorneys general in five other states and Washington, D.C., to file a lawsuit Friday seeking to roll back cuts that have occurred at USPS.
As of Friday, the North Carolina State Board of Elections says 313,224 people have requested ballots to vote by mail, which is 11 times higher than the amount of requests received by this point in 2016.
USPS sent out letters to dozens of states, including North Carolina, warning that if people wait until too close to the deadline to request absentee-by-mail ballots, they run the risk of the postal service not having enough time to deliver those ballots to voters and then back to their county board of elections.
Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC 13th) said he agreed with DeJoy’s decision this week to cease any further changes, but said he believes Democrats have overreacted.
“I don’t share the extremist concerns that we’ve seen expressed in the last week. I happen to know the Postmaster General. He understands logistics,” Budd said. “This is an old institution that needs to make it into the 21st Century. And, he was certainly the one to do that.”
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