Mail Sorting Machines Removed From USPS Processing Center Won't Be Returned

Two mail sorting machines have been removed from a United States Postal Service (USPS) processing center in Maine—and won't be coming back, according to officials.

President Donald Trump's Postmaster General Louis DeJoy made assurances on Tuesday that the USPS would suspend operational changes until after the presidential election in November.

That pledge only came after a national outcry amid widespread mail disruptions that led to critics warning that Trump is attempting to undermine the USPS while railing against mail-in ballots as unprecedented numbers of Americans are set to eschew voting in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But before DeJoy's comments, two of the 10 mail sorting machines at the USPS' Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough were removed, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Mark Seitz, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Local 92, told the newspaper that one of the machines was dismantled completely while the other was sent to the processing center in Hampden.

He noted that while DeJoy has vowed that all changes to the postal service have been put on pause going forward, nothing will be done about changes that have already been made.

"The damage is done," Seitz told the Press Herald. "Those machines aren't coming back."

The union has been contacted for additional comment.

There is no rational explanation that any mail sorting machines would be secretly thrown in the trash. On the heels of Pres. Trump's assertion that he was deliberately blocking support to USPS, this report raises further question the admin's attempts to destabilize our elections. https://t.co/yBNTKpCMg1

— Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) August 19, 2020

Democratic Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree said the removal of the machines raises more questions about the Trump administration's efforts to hinder voting by mail.

"There is no rational explanation that any mail sorting machines would be secretly thrown in the trash," Pingree said on Twitter. "On the heels of Pres. Trump's assertion that he was deliberately blocking support to USPS, this report raises further question [sic] the admin's attempts to destabilize our elections."

She also called for DeJoy's resignation. "Mainers rely on their mail delivery for packages, medicines, & their ballots so attacks on @USPS endanger democracy & peoples' lives," she wrote. "Any changes slowing mail delivery must be reversed & the architect of these changes, Postmaster DeJoy, must resign now!"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that DeJoy, a top Trump donor who was appointed to the role in May, had no intention of restoring sorting machines or blue mailboxes that have already been removed.

Pelosi said she told DeJoy in a phone call that his decision for a temporary pause was "wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked."

She said: "The Postmaster General frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works.

"All of these changes directly jeopardize the election and disproportionately threaten to disenfranchise voters in communities of color. At the same time, we are highly concerned that the slowdown of the delivery of medicines to veterans is not being sufficiently addressed."

Pelosi cut short a summer recess to call the House back into session over the USPS crisis, with a vote expected on Saturday on legislation that would prohibit service changes and include $25 billion in funding. DeJoy is set to testify before the Senate on Friday.

The USPS has been contacted for comment.

Mail sorting
An election worker handles vote-by-mail ballots coming out of a sorting machine for the presidential primary at King County Elections in Renton, Washington on March 10, 2020. Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images