Congressman Keller defends the Postal Service’s capacity to process election mail during Congressional hearing

August 25, 2020
Press Release
Says USPS is following standard procedure to ensure fair and efficient ballot delivery

During Monday’s House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on “Protecting the Timely Delivery of Mail, Medicine, and Mail-in Ballots,” Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) explained that the hearing is nothing more than political theater, highlighting that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is well within its bounds to request operational changes to ensure efficient outcomes, especially for delivering ballots.

Congressman Keller also highlighted concerns regarding deadlines for applying for and returning mail-in ballots, as well as the USPS’ ability to ensure that ballots with pre-paid postage, like those that will be mailed to voters in Pennsylvania, receive postmarks.

On July 29, the USPS General Counsel sent a follow-up to a letter he sent in May to 46 states, including Pennsylvania, expressing concern that the states’ deadlines for requesting and casting ballots by mail do not fit with the USPS’ delivery standards.

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Postmaster General DeJoy confirmed to Congressman Keller that there is precedent at the USPS for sending these letters to state election offices. 

“This has been done in the past,” said Postmaster General DeJoy. “We have intensified the effort to work with the election boards and to communicate with the election boards to help them gain more knowledge on what our processes are.”

Specifically, the USPS’ letter recommends that voters mail their completed ballots no later than Tuesday, October 27. Congressman Keller highlighted that the Pennsylvania election code—particularly the deadlines for requesting ballots—do not comply with USPS delivery standards. In order to comply with USPS’ recommendation, Pennsylvania would need to change current state law, which allows voters to request a ballot as late as Tuesday, October 27.

Congressman Keller asked Postmaster DeJoy if he agrees with the recommendation made by the USPS’ General Counsel to move the application deadline for mail and absentee ballots back—for example, to October 19—to ensure voters can receive their ballots in time to complete and return them no later than October 27.

“It would be best if the state election boards follow the recommendations of our General Counsel,” said Postmaster General DeJoy. “I don’t know why we should take any chance other than have a properly integrated system between the election boards and the Postal Service.”

Moreover, Governor Wolf recently announced that Pennsylvania will cover the cost of postage for every mail-in ballot this year. 

Congressman Keller noted that the Governor’s decision to pre-pay postage for ballots creates problems concerning postmarks and the state’s ability to ensure ballots were mailed by the deadline. On the day before Pennsylvania’s Primary Election, the Governor issued an Executive Order allowing six counties to count ballots received by 5:00 p.m. the week after Election Day, if the ballots were postmarked by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

“If Governor Wolf issues another Executive Order to count ballots returned a week late but are postmarked by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, it would be impossible for the state to determine whether mail-in ballots were truly sent by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day due to the lack of postmarks for pre-paid postage envelopes,” said Congressman Keller.

Postmaster General DeJoy acknowledged this problem and stated that the USPS is working to address it ahead of the November General Election.

“We are going to work to try and set up a process to postmark as much as much as we can,” said Postmaster General DeJoy. “Currently, prepaid postage does not get postmarked. If we didn’t make a special effort to postmark prepaid mail, we would not be postmarking it.”