RICH KIPER: The great Postal Service caper
We recently witnessed the latest Democratic charge that President Trump and Postmaster General (PMG) Louis DeJoy are conspiring to suppress votes by slowing ballot delivery.
DeJoy took over June 15. His objectives were to fix Postal Service deficits, restructure the hugely expensive benefits program, reduce overtime, have trucks run on time and ensure ballots are delivered expeditiously.
Democrats have adopted a three-pronged approach.
First, Democrats want to give the Postal Service $25B that would have no effect on current operations. Republicans oppose such unnecessary spending.
The Postal Service has been losing money since 2007. It lost money in all eight years of the Obama administration and during the first three years and nine months of the Trump administration. Congress did nothing to address the problem.
The second approach involves attacking Postal Service performance.
During the Obama administration, the percent for on-time two-day delivery was 94.2%. During Trump’s three years it was 93.5%. During the first three quarters of this fiscal year it was 91.9%, 93.0% and about 84%, respectively. For those years the PMG was a Democrat appointed by President Obama.
DeJoy was PMG for only two weeks during those years.
Members of Congress relate that they are receiving calls about delays in service. Many of those calls are concerns about what might happen, not what is happening.
That there are some delays is undeniable, even by the PMG. There are plausible reasons for these delays.
In the East, delivery time dropped 12% beginning in July due to lingering effects of the pandemic.
In the Pacific region, California virus peaks were from the end of May until Aug. 16. Delivery time began to drop around July 4. Continuing wildfires also are leading to delivery delays.
CVS and Express Scripts report no delays. The Veterans’ Administration states that the average delivery time is less than three days.
On June 16, the Postal Service inspector general provided DeJoy with a just-completed report on postal operations. Among the findings were that “the Postal Service’s processing network is not operating at optimal efficiency.” That led to delayed scheduled transportation that “inundated the delivery units” and thus required “manual sorting” which further delayed delivery. Note that these procedures were put in place by the previous Democrat PMG.
The volume of online shopping has slowed delivery. Travel restrictions and significant reductions in flights are problems. Forty thousand Postal Service workers have been quarantined. Philadelphia had hundreds of postal drivers out sick.
Riots and anarchists burning down two post offices in Minneapolis has not helped.
Schedules for moving blue mail boxes and sorting machines are based on decreasing first class mail which has dropped 43% since 2010. Such decisions have been ongoing for decades.
The Democrats’ third approach concerns mail-in ballots.
The question of mail-in ballots is hindered by the inability of the public, politicians and the media to use the same definition of the term “mail-in ballot.”
In Kansas it means that registered voters request the county clerks to send a ballot to their address. The voter fills out the ballot and mails in the ballot to the clerks. Whether this method is called absentee or advance is irrelevant.
Democrats have a different definition. They support sending unsolicited ballots to all 150 million registered voters in the country. Those voters would then mail in their ballots.
A common cry by Trump opponents is that he submitted a mail-in ballot to Florida while deploring sending mail-in ballots by the general public. Trump submitted a request for a mail-in ballot as required by Florida law. Those who cry hypocrite are ignorant of the facts.
The five states that have conducted elections entirely by mail in recent years have gotten most of the kinks out of the system. States that first attempted mass mail-in ballots in 2020 primaries were overwhelmed with problems.
DeJoy assured Congress that the Postal Service could handle mail-in ballots. That, however, is dependent upon states setting dates for completed ballots to be received. States, not the federal government, set those dates.
The Postal Service informed 46 states that ballot delivery could suffer if the states do not allow enough time for voters to receive and return ballots by the state-mandated date.
DeJoy’s sin was trying to fix the problems he inherited.
Rich Kiper is a Leavenworth Times columnist.