On Friday, after photos circulated on social media stirred outrage (above and beyond the outrage already stirred by news earlier this week that the pro-Trump postmaster general was working to debilitate the institution ahead of the election), the U.S. Postal Service said it would stop removing mailboxes from streets nationwide.
Photos circulated on social media showed U.S. mailboxes being loaded on to trucks in New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Montana. And the USPS had reportedly planned on doing a lot more of it.
NBC News reports: “The USPS had also intended on removing a number of blue collection boxes around the country, but a spokesman said Friday that it would wait until after Election Day and reevaluate its needs. ‘We are not going to be removing any boxes,’ said USPS spokesman Rod Spurgeon. ‘After the election, we’re going to take a look at operations and see what we need and don’t need.’
The move by the U.S. Postal Service was highlighted by Rachel Maddow in her Friday night show, as she noted that “pushback” by the public worked in this case.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) released a statement on Friday after being alerted to the mailboxes’ removal: “These actions set my hair on fire and they have real life implications for folks in rural America and their ability to access critical postal services like paying their bills and voting in upcoming elections. Postmaster General DeJoy must immediately provide Montanans with an explanation for the actions of the USPS, or he can do it under oath before a Senate committee.”
The moves caused former President Barack Obama to issue rare public remarks: “What we’ve never seen before is a president say, ‘I’m going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to encourage voting, and I will be explicit about the reason I’m doing it.’ That’s sort of unheard of, right?”
Still, there are problems.
NBC News adds: “Numerous states have received letters from the U.S. Postal Service in recent days warning them that the agency that oversees mail in the United States will not be able to fulfill requests for mail-in ballots. The USPS said that there is not enough time for the ballots to be requested, completed and returned before the Nov. 3 presidential election, a startling development as many states have expanded mail-in voting because of the pandemic. NBC News reached out to all 50 states to see whether they had received the USPS letter warning of issues relating to mail-in ballots. Eighteen, including Arizona, Florida and Michigan, shared the letters they received. Vermont, Wisconsin and Kentucky said they did not receive a warning from USPS.”
Meanwhile, this morning, protesters showed up to the Washington DC residence of postmaster general and Trump loyalist Louis DeJoy and dumped ballots outside of his home.
On Friday night, Maddow also spoke with Kimberly Karol, the president of the Iowa Postal Service Workers Union, about exposing the Trump administration’s plans to slow mail service by removing sorting machines, and what the American public can do to protect the post office from Trump.