WASHINGTON — Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said that the United States Postal Service would continue to uphold its “sacred duty” to deliver election mail this November after weeks of public outcry over delayed mail delivery, service changes and controversial comments from the president against voting by mail.
“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,” he said during a virtual hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday.
“There have been no changes in any policies with regard to election mail for the 2020 election,” he added.
Dejoy, a former logistics executive, also testified that he didn’t speak with President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin or White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about postal service changes and has not faced political pressure to reduce capacity for election mail.
“The board’s committed, the postal workers are committed, the union leadership is committed to having a successful election, and the insinuation is outrageous,” he said.
Dejoy’s recently implemented cost-cutting policies include cutbacks on overtime work, reduced extra-delivery trips and removal of sorting machines and mailboxes. These operational changes spurred worries about ballot delivery for November, especially as images of truckloads of removed mailboxes went viral online, which Dejoy said he found out about with the rest of the public.
“Since my arrival, we removed 700 collection boxes, of which I had no idea that that was a process,” he said. “When I found out about it, we socialized it here with the leadership team and looked at the excitement it was creating, so I decided to stop it and we will pick it up after the election, but this is a normal process that has been around, it’s been around 50 years.”
A group of 90 House Democrats called on the Postal Service’s board of governors in a letter Wednesday to rein in Dejoy and potentially remove him as head of the service if he did not cooperate.
Dejoy paused these changes on Tuesday until after the election to avoid “even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
The sorting machines, which he said are running at about 35% capacity, are being removed to make room to process packages. Those machines will not be brought back because they are “not needed,” Dejoy said in response to questioning from Sen. Gary Peters.
Adding to concerns over election readiness, the postal service’s general counsel sent a letter last week warning almost every state that voters are at risk of not getting their ballots back to election officials in time, since election rules are often incompatible with actual mail delivery time. Dejoy said a similar letter gets sent out during every election.
“This was not a change from anything we have done in previous years,” he said. “It was just more detail and more emphasis put on it partly because of the expected rise in vote by mail and also because of the pandemic.”
Democrats in the hearing pushed for increased transparency about all of these postal service operational changes. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada asked Dejoy to provide transcripts of non-public board of governors meetings, but Dejoy pushed back on that request, saying he didn’t know if he had the authority to disclose those minutes.
Asked if he supports voting by mail, Dejoy revealed that he plans to cast an absentee ballot himself.
“I’ve voted by mail for a number of years,” he said. “The Postal Service will deliver every ballot and process every ballot in time that it receives.”
Dejoy is next set to testify before the Democrat-led House Oversight Committee on Monday.