Politics

USPS Seeks Price Hikes Due to COVID-19 and Holidays, Election Mail Not Affected

The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced Friday that it is seeking to raise prices on a number of its mail services starting about two weeks before the November general election, although a representative said the increase will not affect the types of products that are used to deliver absentee ballots.

The USPS said in a release that it has filed notice of the planned price increases with the Postal Regulatory Commission, a body that reviews and ultimately decides if any price change proposals are to proceed. The price hikes, which are time-limited and cover all commercial domestic competitive package volume, are scheduled to go into effect on October 18, 2020.

“The planned temporary price adjustments are in response to increased expenses and heightened demand for online shopping package volume due to the coronavirus pandemic and expected holiday ecommerce,” the agency said, adding that the rise pertains only to commercial packages, leaving retail prices unaffected.

The price hikes, which range from 24 cents to $1.50 on products like Parcel Select Destination Deliver Unit and Priority Mail Express Commercial, are scheduled to expire on Dec. 27.

Kim Frum, a senior public relations representative at the Postal Service, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that the changes will not impact Election Mail and that the changes “are completely unrelated to the election.”

The two main classes of mail that are used for absentee ballots are First-Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail, the prices of which are not affected by the price hike. Voters must use First-Class Mail, or an expedited level of service, to mail their ballot request as well as the ballots themselves. Election officials can use either First-Class Mail or Marketing Mail to send out blank ballots.

Frum said the price increases are driven by the need “to protect our financial situation and to continue meeting the needs of the American public.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a USPS Board of Governors meeting, at which Postmaster General Louis DeJoy warned the agency faces a “dire” financial position and that unless major changes are made, the Postal Service will find itself in the midst of a full-blown financial crisis.

Last month, DeJoy imposed several cost-cutting measures meant to address the Postal Services longtime financial problems, including cutting overtime and mandating that mail be kept until the next day if distribution centers are running late.

mail in voting
Election workers sort vote-by-mail ballots for the presidential primary at King County Elections in Renton, Wash., on March 10, 2020. (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

Still, DeJoy insisted in August 7 remarks that, despite the cuts, the Postal Service is “not slowing down Election Mail or any other mail.” This came after lawmakers from both parties criticized DeJoys cuts, with 84 House members, including four Republicans, arguing in a letter that it is “vital that the Postal Service does not reduce mail delivery hours, which could harm rural communities, seniors, small businesses, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail for critical letters and packages.”

Further elevating concerns that the USPS may not be able to cope with an expected surge in mail-in ballots as Americans seek to reduce the risk of exposure to the CCP virus by avoiding polling stations, the agency said on Friday it warned 46 states that they are at risk of having their residents mail-in ballots not be counted in the November election. This is because of state laws that allow tight vote-by-mail deadlines that the USPS may operationally not be able to meet.

In letters sent in July to various state election officials, Thomas J. Marshall, the general counsel for the Postal Service, said that “certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Services delivery standards.” One such letter was attached to a filing submitted by Pennsylvanias Department of State to the state Supreme Court (pdf) on August 13. The filing asks the court to order that mail-in ballots will be countable as long as election officRead More From Source

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