Postal Service removing mail sorting machines as election nears

'Yes, I know a couple of mechanics that are removing some sorting machines. Some were removed last year due to malfunction,' an exclusive source told theGrio

Machines that sort mail are being removed from postal facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason, according to reports.

Nineteen sorting machines from five processing facilities across the country have been removed or are scheduled to be removed shortly, Motherboard reported via VICE.

theGrio spoke to a Michigan postmaster, who was willing to be quoted anonymously, about the changes happening in her district on Friday. 

READ MORE: Postal Service backlog creates worry about November election

“Yes, I know a couple of mechanics that are removing some sorting machines. Some were removed last year due to malfunction,” the source shared. She also noted why some machines are being withdrawn from the facility.

She explained, “Short staffing is the reason some will be removed. The machines being removed means that more zip codes will have to be run on one machine as opposed to having multiple others.”

An United States Postal Office employee puts a bundle of mail onto a machine
at the Processing and Distribution Center.
(Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

A postal employee told VICE, “Look at it this way: Your local grocery store was forced to cut 1/3 of its cash-out lines, but management expected the same productivity, quality, and speed for the customer.”

“It’s just never going to happen.”

The exclusive source to theGrio added that there are some changes at the post office that she is happy about.

“I always thought that the post office paid too much money in work hours and overtime to deliver a $0.55 letter,” she shared. “So delaying the mail one or two days opposed to paying millions of dollars in overtime due to extremely short staffing I do agree with.”

She noted that while Election Day has always posed issues during her 20-year postal career, United States Postal Service staff goes above and beyond to get ballots delivered. However, she added, “This year, I would encourage people to vote in person, if possible.” 

Post Offices Across Country Brace For Expected Busiest Mail Day
Stacks of boxes holding cards and letters are seen at the U.S. Post Office sort center
in San Francisco, California.
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As mail-in voting becomes more of a hot-button issue in the 2020 election, our source notes that the USPS has weathered its own tough storms amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is a hiring freeze on management positions effective tomorrow. We don’t know how long that will be in effect,” she said. “Also, fewer people are even accepting promotions anymore. The pandemic has caused increased deaths, retirements, and employees resigning.”

The source continued, “We operate on a skeleton crew every day at the plants and various local post offices, which is what causes the mail to not be delivered at times.” 

READ MORE: Postal Service running ‘out of cash’ and that may hurt African Americans

The battle for and about the Postal Service is a part of the second coronavirus stimulus negotiations. President Donald Trump acknowledged on Thursday that the USPS needs more money for mail-in voting, but he will continue to hold back funds.

“They want $25 billion, billion, for the post office. Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said, repeating his false claims that mail-in voting would be “fraudulent.”

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