USPS Told Not to Reinstall Machines as Senate Demands Answers From DeJoy

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is telling maintenance managers not to reconnect or reinstall any mailing sorting machines which have already been disconnected even after the suspension of changes to operations, according to reports.

The message was sent in an email, seen by CNN and Motherboard, after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy publicly announced a halt on any initiatives for the service in order to avoid "even the appearance of any impact on election mail" ahead of November's vote.

It also was sent ahead of DeJoy being set to testify in front of the Senate on Friday.

There have been concerns about whether the current USPS system would be able to handle the expected rise of ballots as more people choose to vote by mail as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

"Please message out to your respective Maintenance Managers tonight. They are not to reconnect / reinstall machines that have previously been disconnected without approval from HQ Maintenance, no matter what direction they are getting from their plant manager," Kevin Couch, Director of Maintenance Operations, wrote in the email.

"Please have them flow that request through you then on to me for a direction."

Motherboard reports that another email was sent to individual maintenance managers across the country with an additional line of: "We are not to reconnect any machines that have previously been disconnected."

The email appears to confirm concerns raised by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following a conversation she had with DeJoy that his announcement to suspend changes is "not a solution and is misleading."

"The Postmaster General's alleged pause is wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked," Pelosi 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."

According to CNN, 95 percent of the mail sorting machines that had been set for removal have already been taken out of service.

This week, union workers in Maine expressed fears that two mail sorting machines already removed from the USPS' Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough will not return.

"The damage is done," Mark Seitz, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Local 92, told the Portland Press Herald. "Those machines aren't coming back."

The USPS has been contacted for comment.

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An elections worker loads unopened ballots into a machine for sorting at the King County Elections headquarters on August 4, 2020 in Renton, Washington David Ryder/Getty