The U.S. Postal Service has stopped removing letter collection boxes from the streets in several states, following reports about how these cuts could impact the 2020 presidential election. According to CNN on Friday, the USPS was reducing the number of letter collection boxes in 16 states on the western side of the country. Now, they will hold off on this measure until the election is over.
A spokesperson for the Western region of the USPS, Rod Spurgeon, issued a new statement to CNN on Friday night, confirming that the agency will stop taking collection boxes off of the street. The outlet had previously reported that Americans were losing mailboxes in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Alaska, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Missouri. With the coronavirus pandemic still on the rise, mail-in voting is more important than ever, so access to mail delivery is now linked to access to voting.
The USPS has still not confirmed that the halting of mailbox removal is in effect nationwide. Kim Frum, a spokesperson, based at the USPS national headquarters, said that she was not prepared to say whether this action would be taken throughout the country. In fact, Frum could not comment on the removal freeze in the Western region either.
In addition to those listed above, USPS officials have confirmed that letter collection boxes in New York and Indiana have been removed over the last week as well. They have also begun to reduce the operating hours of post offices in West Virginia, Florida and Missouri.
Many analysts and public officials have called the changes to the USPS a form of "voter suppression." President Donald Trump has vehemently expressed his opposition to mail-in voting and has stated his intention to stop it one way or other various times on Twitter. Many see these changes to the service as his attempt to do just that. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said that the president is sabotaging the 2020 presidential election "right under our noses."
Frum countered these comments, saying that the changes have "been based on mail volume received in those boxes." She added that this was part of a process of moving "low-use boxes to high traffic areas."
Still, the USPS has sent letters to multiple states warning that the reduced hours and operating capacity could cause mail-in ballots to be delayed, and thus not count towards the presidential election. Union officials have stated that election-related mail is a high priority for the USPS.