Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is trying to soothe the nation’s outrage over so-called reforms that threaten our ability to hold a fair election during a pandemic.

DeJoy announced Monday that he would suspend some of his proposed operational changes until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.”

But it’s much too late for that. Between DeJoy’s policies, which have slowed mail delivery, and President Trump’s verbal attacks on the U.S. Postal Service and the concept of voting by mail, there is more than an appearance of interference: Trump and DeJoy have already interfered with the 2020 election by damaging public confidence in a fair election, possibly discouraging people from bothering to vote.

A temporary halt won’t do the trick. The Postal Service needs to roll back the mail-delaying policies that have already been implemented in the last few months, and DeJoy, a major Trump campaign donor, should be nowhere near any decision that has election implications. If he can’t recuse himself from them, he should resign.

This situation has been brewing for years.

Unlike other departments of the federal government, the USPS is supposed to be a self-supporting entity that runs like a business.


But no business could operate under the conditions that govern the U.S. mail. For one thing, the Postal Service has an obligation to deliver mail to everyone, regardless of how remote or inaccessible the place where they live may be. Unlike other businesses, the Postal Service can’t put a price on its own product: Postal rates are set by Congress, not in response to the free market.

And since 2006, the Postal Service has had to fund in advance future retiree health benefits for every new employee, an arrangement that’s unheard of in the private sector.

The Postal Service is in the midst of technological change. Electronic communications, from email to encrypted chat apps, have taken the place of first class mail, the Postal Service’s core business, while there has been an explosion in demand for lucrative parcel post delivery, requiring changes in the system.

Because of the pandemic, most states are trying to maximize their use of absentee ballots to avoid Election Day crowds at the polls. Meanwhile, DeJoy has been proceeding with plans that would slow down mail delivery in 46 states, including Maine. High-speed sorting machines have been replaced with hand sorting in a number of locations. DeJoy has also enacted staff cuts and overtime limits. Last week, postal carriers in Scarborough reported that 80,000 pieces of sorted mail were left sitting overnight to avoid a 10-minute delay as part of DeJoy’s cost-saving initiatives.

It is easy to see how these delays could affect an election that relies on mail-in voting because of the pandemic.

Then last week, Trump told a Fox Business News audience that he was blocking rescue funds for the Postal Service because he wanted to slow the use of mail-in ballots. “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” Trump told host Maria Bartiromo. “That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”

Donald Trump did not create the problems with the Postal Service, but he has certainly made them much worse, and the election raises the stakes.

As a candidate in the election, the president and his donors should have nothing to do with policies that affect people’s ability to vote. Congress should make sure that this issue is promptly taken out of their hands before it’s too late.

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