Viral photos of removed mailboxes are causing anxiety across the nation amid talk that Donald Trump is trying to “sabotage” the election.
Places like Portland, Baltimore and New York have reported missing mailboxes, although reasons have varied across states.
In New York City, postal worker union members say mailboxes have been removed from locations in the Bronx and dozens of them were seen discarded behind a post office, according to NBC New York. The American Postal Workers Union says the removed boxes being held at the Cornell Post Office were not being replaced.
Such a visual caused concern for the president of the NY Metro Area Postal Union, Jonathan Smith.
“Every facility that I represent, the mail is backing up, it’s piling up more and more,” he said. “It’s definitely intentional and its going to hurt the American public in the long run.”
In Morristown, New Jersey, photos of a flatbed truck hauling off a couple of mailboxes Saturday morning also caused a stir. However, according to the Daily Record, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty said the mailboxes were being replaced with new anti-fishing boxes. He said a new mailbox was installed on Speedwell Avenue near the Morristown Fire Department. “Brand new… no rust like the old one. I am going to check around town in the morning,” Doughtery said.
A similar explanation was given in Portland after photos of mailboxes being removed from a neighborhood went viral. USPS spokesperson David Rupert told KOIN 6 News that the mailboxes located in the Northeast Portland neighborhood had been vandalized. Thus, he said they were being replaced “with newer, more secure models.”
“We still have carriers come to every single home six days a week and they collect any outgoing mail that is available,” he said. “We are the most trusted Federal organization and the most trusted brand in America. We take that trust very seriously and the Postal Service is fully committed to serving Oregon.”
Explanations like this aren’t guaranteed to calm the American people, considering Trump’s opposition to election aid for states and an emergency bailout for the United States Postal Service in order to restrict how many Americans can vote by mail. Considering about 180 million Americans are eligible to vote by mail, Trump’s stance could cause widespread delays, long lines and voter disenfranchisement come November, an issue that already gravely impacts Black people.
Trump argued that his actions are to stop Democrats from expanding mail-balloting, which he has argued, with no evidence, would incite widespread voter fraud. Many critiques have slammed Trump as trying to undermine the election for his own benefit.
When it comes to the mailbox removals, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden described them as part of a broader effort by Trump to “sabotage our elections” and referred to the removals as “voter suppression,” according to ABC News. Montana Sen. Jon Tester deemed the removals a “harebrained scheme that would have cut off Montanans’ access to critical postal services like paying their bills and voting in upcoming elections.”
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, Kimberly Frum, responded by saying the process of removing mailboxes “is one of the many ways the Postal Services makes adjustments to our infrastructure to match our resources to declining mail volumes.” But because of the mounting concerns, Frum said, “the Postal Service will postpone removing boxes for a period of 90 days while we evaluate our customers concerns.”
It doesn’t help that the leader of the Postal Service, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is a Trump appointee and mega-donor. According to The New York Times, he’s implemented what he describes as cost-cutting measures such as ending overtime pay and the removal or transfer of some sorting machines.
Because of his actions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California announced on Sunday that she would call the House back from its annual summer recess for a vote this week on legislation to prevent changes at the Postal Service.
“Alarmingly, across the nation, we see the devastating effects of the President’s campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters,” Pelosi said in a press release. “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, one of the top Trump mega-donors, has proven a complicit crony as he continues to push forward sweeping new operational changes that degrade postal service, delay the mail, and – according to the Postal Service itself – threaten to deny the ability of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming elections in a timely fashion.”
“That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Maloney’s ‘Delivering for America Act,’” she continued. “Which prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020.”
Pelosi and New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, are pushing for DeJoy and Robert M. Duncan, the chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, to testify on Aug. 24.
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