City Councilors Anissa Essaibi-George (At-Large) and Ricardo Arroyo (District 5) offered an ordinance to support the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the American Postal Workers Union during the City Council meeting on Wednesday afternoon. The proposal urged Council members to call on Congress to ensure the USPS has essential support for its critical needs.
The proposal stated fears that the USPS would not last through September without missing payroll payments and service interruptions. The USPS has been plagued by privatization efforts throughout the years and the service is expected to lose billions of revenue amid the nationwide pandemic.
“Now we have also experienced the President and Postmaster General attempting to further dismantle the United States Postal Service ahead of the election,” stated Councilor Essaibi-George during the Council meeting.
Following structural changes to the USPS enacted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, at least a dozen high-capacity sorting machines were removed in Massachusetts according to WGBH.com.
In response to national outcry, Postmaster General DeJoy announced to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail” the changes would be suspended until after the election. He reassured that the USPS can “handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall.”
However, a series of letters regarding election mail was sent in late July to nearly all fifty states, including Massachusetts, warning of the risk that ballots may not reach election offices in time.
City officials have encouraged mail-in voting as a safe alternative to in-person voting while the COVID-19 pandemic persists throughout the nation. According to Mayor Marty Walsh, the Boston Election Department received more than 75,000 requests for mail-in ballots this year.
Mayor Walsh addressed the ongoing challenges of mail-in voting during his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, stating “the President has threatened to undermine the operations of the US Postal Service to disrupt mail-in voting.”
Mayor Walsh reassured that City officials were continuing to monitor the situation very closely in order to avoid disruption of mail-in voting during the election.
“This year, we’re certainly facing challenges to the election process like we’ve never ever seen before; a pandemic and also attacks from the White House,” he stated.
In order to protect residents, over twenty polling stations have been moved from senior centers for this year’s state primary and general elections. Voters affected by these changes will be notified by mail of their new polling location.
City Hall has also set up a ballot box in the lobby which is accessible Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. without an appointment needed. Visitors must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the building.
Residents are able to track their 2020 mail-in ballot online.