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Postmaster General suspends operational changes within USPS until after election

The Brown County Clerk advises absentee voters to plan ahead to ensure all ballots are processed and counted.
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 4:47 PM CDT
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The United States Postal Service (USPS) Postmaster General announces he will halt some operational changes until after the November election.

Changes to the USPS grab the attention of Americans across the country less than three months ahead of the presidential election.

“I fear with the election ballots being mailed, we’re going to have a problem getting service standards the way it should be,” said Kelly Heaney, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Northern Wisconsin Area Local #2247.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon suspending some changes at the agency until after the election. His statement reads in part: “I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.”

Members of the APWU confirm three machines are still out of commission at the Green Bay processing facility and remain shutdown even after the announcement with delays in mail delivery already a reality.

“The numbers are just incredible,” said Sandy Juno, Brown County Clerk. “For the primary, we had over 70-percent absentee ballots cast which means only 30-percent of the people used election day voting.”

Many of those ballots were requested and cast by mail.

Juno says more than 140,000 Brown County voters filled out ballots in the last presidential election meaning that if the numbers stay the same, area clerks stand to process up to 100,000 absentee ballots in November.

“Any presidential election, they just have high volumes, and I know the U.S. Mail Service really has a lot of protocols in place to track those absentee ballots,” said Juno.

Wisconsin voters can request an absentee ballot by mail up until the Thursday before an election; however, Juno encourages people to act sooner rather than later to make sure every ballot gets counted.

“Once it gets to be two weeks before the election, I would ask anybody who’s thinking to vote absentee to consider doing that in the municipal clerk’s office,” said Juno.

In-person absentee voting opens two weeks before Election Day. Absentee ballots received by mail can also be filled out and returned to drop boxes located outside of municipal clerk offices. “I would think that would be a much more secure and efficient way to return a ballot once you’ve voted,” said Juno.

Voters can also visit myvote.wi.gov to see if their ballot has been processed and scanned by the municipal clerk.

For a full list of voting hours and drop box locations in Brown County, visit the Elections section of the County Clerk webpage.

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