U.S. Rep. Ed Case wants U.S. Postal Service operations in Hawaii and on the mainland rolled back to Jan. 1, prior to recent cuts in service made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
At a press conference at the Merchant Street Post Office on Tuesday, Case said the cuts in service were designed to hamper voter turnout in the Nov. 3 general election.
DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump who was tapped in May to run the Postal Service, said Tuesday the Postal Service would suspend the cost-cutting moves until after the 2020 election.
The measures, which included eliminating overtime for mail carriers, reducing post office hours and removing postal boxes, have been faulted for slowing mail delivery and criticized as an attempt to disenfranchise voters seeking to vote safely during the virus pandemic.
The changes, Case said, were put in place “specifically to handicap the ability of the U.S. Postal Service to deliver a full, fair and free election through voting by mail. … Voting by mail works and that seems to be the concern of this (Trump) administration. … That is wrong. That needs to be called out specifically, clearly and deliberately across this entire country.”
Along with hampering Hawaii’s new mail-in ballot voting, Case said the cuts in postal operations would particularly hurt small businesses, deliveries of Social Security checks and on-time deliveries of prescription medications, especially to military veterans.
Case said DeJoy has not endorsed a plan to infuse the Postal Service with $25 billion that was endorsed by its governing board to support efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and through the general election.
The U.S. House will again pass a $25 billion emergency funding bill this weekend, Case said, but it’s unknown what the Senate will do in the face of nationwide pressure.
Case said he wants a permanent return to Postal Service operations to Jan. 1 levels.
State Attorney General Clare Connors stood alongside Case at the press conference and said she is considering joining federal lawsuits against the Postal Service’s cuts. The list of states considering lawsuits grew to nearly two dozen hours after Connors spoke.
“We are looking at what is happening across the nation because this franchise is one of the most critical franchises,” Connors said.
On the 100th anniversary to the day of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, Connors wore a replica sash that read, “Votes For Women.”
“All people have this right, all people need to be able to exercise it,” she said.
In a statement Tuesday, DeJoy said, “The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall. Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards. The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day. The 630,000 dedicated women and men of the Postal Service are committed, ready and proud to meet this sacred duty.”
At the same time, DeJoy said that “significant reforms are essential.”
Through the election, DeJoy said retail Post Office hours will not change; Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain in place; No mail processing facilities will close; and overtime will continue to be approved as needed.
But Case said he wants the Postal Service “to reverse course completely.”
The New York Times contributed to this report.