Press Release

Welch, Wyden Lead 17 Colleagues in Pressing USPS for Details on How Consolidation Could Impact Election and On-Time Delivery of Mail-In Ballots

Jun 26, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Senators Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) led 17 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy requesting information about how the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plans to ensure the timely delivery of mail-in ballots throughout the ongoing 2024 election cycle and beyond. Their request comes in light of USPS facility consolidations initiated under DeJoy, which have been temporarily paused following outcry from constituents and Congressional leaders. Through this process, USPS has greenlit the downgrading of 56 of 59 selected postal facilities across the country—including in Vermont, Oregon, Minnesota, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, Maine, California, Washington, and Georgia. 

“USPS serves an essential function in American elections. On a nonpartisan basis, it securely processes, transports, and delivers election mail, including ballots. In 2020, the Postal Service overcame a series of challenges, including the onset of a global pandemic, to fulfill this critical mission. Impressively, it delivered 97.9% of ballots within three days, even as a record number of Americans voted by mail. For the 2022 midterm elections, USPS maintained this standard of excellence and delivered 98.96% of ballots within three days,” wrote the senators. “We applaud these achievements, but much has changed since 2022.” 

“In July 2023, USPS completed its first regional consolidation in Richmond, Virginia. A report from the USPS Inspector General found that the consolidation led to “a decrease in service performance for the Richmond region that continued four months after launch,” continued the senators. “Earlier this year, these delays led some local election officials to direct area residents to forego USPS entirely and instead place primary election ballots in designated drop boxes. USPS continued the Mail Processing Facility Reviews process for several months, despite this evidence of consolidation-related service disruptions.”

“We believe that the Postal Service remains well-equipped to securely deliver mail-in ballots. However, given the service disruptions already resulting from the DFA plan, we fear the same approach adopted by USPS in 2020 and 2022 may not be sufficient to guarantee on-time delivery results,” wrote the senators

The Senators requested the Postmaster General answer the following questions by July 24, 2024: 

  1. Has USPS conducted any studies evaluating the DFA plan’s short- and long-term impact on election mail operations? If so, please provide us with a copy of such studies. If not, why not? 
  2. During the MPFR pause, will the Postal Service commit to providing evidence that the consolidation will not result in further degradation of service for customers? 
  3. Please describe any efforts the Postal Service has taken or plans to take to engage in direct outreach and offer support to election officials for the 2024 election, as it did during the 2020 and 2022 election cycles. 
  4. Since 2022, has USPS developed new election mail strategies to account for continued implementation of the DFA plan? 
  5. In the upcoming election, how does the Postal Service intend to improve service for the communities where it has already proceeded with postal consolidations? 
  6. What support from Congress, if any, does USPS need to ensure on-time delivery of election mail? 

In addition to Sens. Welch and Wyden, the letter was signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).  

Senator Welch has pushed for postal reform to better serve rural communities and has called for improvements to USPS’ national management. In April, Sen. Welch partnered with Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), along with 22 Members of Congress, in sending a letter to Postmaster General DeJoy opposing the USPS’ recent nationwide consolidation and review announcements. Following the senators’ advocacy, the USPS paused the Mail Processing Facility Reviews process until after the 2024 election. The pause is set to expire in January 2025. 

In March, Welch took to the Senate Floor to call out Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s failure to deliver for rural America, pointing to the postal delays plaguing Vermont and other rural areas because of DeJoy’s policies, and the nearly nine-month-long fight to re-open a fully-functioning Post Office in Vermont’s capital city after severe flooding in Summer 2023. Following Senator Welch’s advocacy, the Postal Service announced it would finally be re-opening a retail post office in Montpelier. 

Read the full text of the letter.