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USPS changes impact mail delivery, will Oklahoma absentee ballots be slowed?

Posted at 7:45 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 09:58:28-04

TULSA, Okla. — United States Postal Services offices across the country drown in mail. They are experiencing delivery delays because of recent policy changes, like banned overtime, to cut costs.

After seeing a record number of absentee ballots in June, the Tulsa County Board of Election is unsure how the USPS's mail speed will affect the upcoming election.

Beverly Burnett, Tulsa County absentee voter, said, “I’m not overly concerned about it. I think they’ll get it worked out. The officials do know what they are doing, especially because they’ve been doing this for a long time now. I think they have their handle on it.”

Burnett might be right. According to Jeff Bradley, the President of the American Postal Workers Union for northeastern Oklahoma, ballots are considered priority mail.

“To say there’s going to be a delay, I just think that’s wrong," he said. "We all know what it looks like and do everything we can to get those in and out as soon as possible.”

The Tulsa County Election Board claims it has always had a smooth-running relationship with the post office.

“During elections, they’ve always been extremely helpful. They’ve opened up for us after hours on election night so we could pick up any last minute ballots. They’ll hold them aside for us,” said Gwen Freeman, the board's secretary.

Last month, USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issued the following statement:

“The Postal Service is in a financially unsustainable position, stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, and a broken business model. We are currently unable to balance our costs with available funding sources to fulfill both our universal service mission and other legal obligations. Because of this, the Postal Service has experienced over a decade of financial losses, with no end in sight, and we face an impending liquidity crisis. Our Inspector General indicated that the Postal Service spent $1.1 billion in mail processing overtime and penalty overtime, $280 million in late and extra transportation, and $2.9 billion in delivery overtime and penalty overtime costs in FY 2019. Yet, even after incurring these additional costs, the Postal Service has not seen material improvement in our service performance scores. We need to redouble our efforts to focus on our plans to improve operational efficiency and to further control overtime expenditures."

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