On Friday, the bottom of this CBS report grabbed my attention. It said four delivery bar code sorter machines had been decommissioned in July at the U.S. Postal Service’s Dallas hub. According to the USPS, each of these machines can read the barcodes and sort up to 360,000 pieces of mail per hour. If you’ve been following this, you’ll know these sorters are the primary way in which the USPS processes envelopes.
Yared Wonde, the head of the Dallas postal union, said workers had tried to get the machines back online but critical pieces were missing. Now, postal workers have leaked images to NBC reporter Geoff Bennett:
NEWS: A postal employee provides NBC News with exclusive images of dismantled mail sorting machines in a Dallas facility. Workers attempted to repair and reinstall them but found critical parts were trashed.
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) August 25, 2020
Wonde told him the same thing: workers tried to make the machines operable again, but they no longer contained the required equipment. He suspects they’ll be sold for scrap metal.
Nevertheless, U.S. Postmaster Louis DeJoy told the House Oversight Committee yesterday that the delivery rate for first-class mail was down by about 8.1 percent. That’s attributed to his policy that made truck drivers leave packages at processing plants if sorting ran late.
About 85 percent of first-class mail is on time, but that doesn’t mean the alarming anecdotes of medication not making it in time aren’t happening. If anything, it’s likely that the postal service’s recent problems are more acute in certain portions of the country than others, in particular areas that have been hit hard by the coronavirus.
As The Washington Post reported, about 31 percent of mail has been late since July—when DeJoy started instituting his controversial new policies—compared to 26.5 percent in the six months prior. Average delays for late mail is usually a day or two and firms that track mail data say they haven’t noticed any “systemic degradation in service.”
There remains fear that the postal service’s woes could impact the election, particularly with President Trump’s claim that he’s trying to limit the delivery of ballots. The best way around this is to request your mail-in ballot early—or vote in person.