Of particular importance was DeJoy’s commitment to treat all ballots as first-class mail even if they’re purchased at less-expensive bulk rates, along with his vow to beef up staffing around election time to meet the expected surge of ballots, as the Postal Service has done in years past.
“I’m optimistic that the Postal Service is up to the task,” Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union, told me. “There’s more commitments and there’s more cooperation, and those are both very important things for making sure this works well.”
Read: What really scares voting experts about the Postal Service
From the beginning, the Postal Service has insisted that it has both the capacity and the funding to handle a surge in mail ballots. The doubts have instead centered around DeJoy, a GOP donor who won the postmaster general’s job only after Trump was able to fill open seats on the USPS board of governors, which appointed DeJoy. In appearances before Congress last month, he defended the operational changes he ordered in the name of efficiency, even as he promised the Postal Service’s full support in facilitating mail-in voting. The postal unions remained concerned about the long-term impact of those changes, and in interviews over the past several days, I could detect a hint of frustration that the narrow, but understandable, focus on the election was obscuring their deeper worry about the direction of the USPS under DeJoy’s leadership. The APWU, for example, believes the Trump administration is on a mission to degrade public support for the Postal Service so it can put the agency up for sale. The public outcry over DeJoy’s overhaul has made that harder, but once the election is over, union leaders wonder, will people simply move on?
“We’re pleased there’s been some pullback on these policies between now and the election,” Dimondstein told me, “but the post office is not just about mail ballots, as important as they are. And it’s not just about now until November, as important as that is.”
I asked Dimondstein whether he trusted DeJoy. “Well, that’s kind of a loaded question,” he replied with a nervous laugh. “I’ve always said, and I’m going to continue to say, we have deep concerns about how he got there and what he represents and, obviously, what he’s doing,” Dimondstein told me. “He has said a lot of the right things, but how we judge him as postmaster general is by his deeds.” He recalled the wise words of an old friend who once told him, “Watch the feet.”
Not everything has gone smoothly for the Postal Service so far. Colorado is suing the agency over a postcard it sent to more than 160 million American voters encouraging them to request ballots from their state at least 15 days before the election. Because Colorado is one of several states that votes entirely by mail, it sends every registered voter a ballot automatically—they don’t need to request one. Its secretary of state, Jena Griswold, said the USPS mailer would cause confusion among Colorado voters, “undermine confidence in the election” and suppress votes. She said that when she urged the Postal Service not to send the postcard to voters in Colorado, it refused.