USPS officials worry "supply chain" issues could impact mail ballots: Report

Commercials, videos, and an 'Election Mail' website will ensure mail vote security

Senior USPS officials are warning the agency's election-integrity task force that "issues in the supply chain" may prevent voters from receiving ballots and election mail in time for Election Day, according to a recording of the task force's inaugural meeting Thursday obtained by the Daily Beast.

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One senior official reportedly informed the group, which consisted of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and other senior USPS officials, that the agency's printers "just don’t have the capacity they were used to in prior elections" to handle the large influx of ballots expected this year.

Another official expressed concern that deadlines for voters requesting mail-in ballots may fall too close to Election Day.

"Despite the heroic efforts I know you guys will pursue to get that ballot in the hands of voters, the reality is, that’s going to be a difficult situation for that voter to have their vote counted,” the official reportedly said.

Members of the task force pointed out that there could be up to 10 times more mail-in ballots than in a normal year, and that state policies allowing voters to request ballots the day before an election, such as in Minnesota and Montana, could make the situation more problematic for the agency.

"Given the volume we can expect, it probably won’t be a good thing if there’s a massive amount of volume the day before the election,” another official warned according to the report.

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USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer told FOX Business that any supply chain issues related to the production of ballots or other election mail is "ultimately the responsibility of the election officials to address."

However, he noted that the postal service does work to "assist and educate ballot producers in their mail piece design."

Partenheimer added that the service stands in "complete readiness to deliver any election mail that is presented to us, and we will do so in a timely and secure manner consistent with our longstanding processes and procedures that we have utilized for years."

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During the meeting, senior USPS officials, including DeJoy, reportedly blamed the states for complicating vote-by-mail efforts, complaining Thursday about states' "lack of understanding of the mail delivery process," according to the Daily Beast.

They also acknowledged that controversial moves like warning election officials that deadlines for voters to request mail-in ballots jeopardize votes being counted opens the agency up to claims of politicization.

In this image from video, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a virtual hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on the U.S. Postal Service during COVID-19 and the upcoming elections, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020 on Capitol

One official reportedly told the Daily Beast that part of the problem is that there is generally a feeling that "DeJoy doesn’t know what he’s doing, and his senior staff is not managing him.”

An official at the meeting expressed concern Dejoy's actions have resulted in the recent controversy that the agency is involved in.

“We were very assiduously trying to avoid becoming a political football," an official reportedly said at the task force meeting. "As you can tell, we were not wildly successful in that regard.”

Dejoy has faced scrutiny by Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill for operational changes being taken by the agency while under his watch, such as overtime restrictions and the removal of equipment. Some believe the changes are part of an effort to "sabotage" the upcoming November election.

The postmaster general has said he would delay further changes to operations until after the election, but Democrats say the move doesn't go far enough. Instead, they are pushing for legislation to reverse the policy changes and make it illegal for USPS to reduce services until after the coronavirus pandemic or Jan. 31, 2021 -- whichever is later.

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Despite expressing their frustration over the problems USPS is facing, Dejoy and his deputies are reportedly pushing for officials to urge the public to request ballots as early as possible.

According to the Daily Beast, leadership is focusing on a public relations push that, in Dejoy's words, builds "confidence in the public."

"The postmaster general has made it clear that we are ready to deliver for the November election and are committed to fulfilling our role in the electoral process when public policymakers choose to utilize us as part of their election system," Partenheimer told FOX Business. "Postal Service public outreach efforts, whether it be commercials, videos or other efforts such as our recently launched election mail website, are part of our ongoing effort to ensure that voters who choose to use the mail to vote can do so effectively to ensure that their votes will be counted."

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