NJ mailboxes removed, but they’re being upgraded, USPS says
MORRISTOWN — The U.S. Postal Service says several collection seen in a picture being taken away in the back of a truck will be upgraded with high security boxes, as funding for the postal service comes under increased debate.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill in a message on her Twitter account on Saturday called for an investigation after posting a photo of the boxes being taken away.
"I’m not going to sit by while the USPS — an essential service — is systematically dismantled here in NJ and around the country," Sherrill said on her Twitter account.
President Donald Trump has resisted additional funding favored by Democrats in coronavirus stimulus negotiations, saying it would make it possible for states to conduct large-scale mail-in voting — just as New Jersey plans to do. The president has argued mail-in voting would lead to fraud, but Democrats counter there's little evidence of that, and that mail-in voting is needed to keep voters safe during the pandemic.
The Post Office plans to remove more than 13 percent of its mail sorting machines this year, several news outlets have reported, though White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on CNN Sunday the service would note remove any more mail sorting machines until after the November election.
Sherrill said in a tweet on Sunday that Morristown mayor Timothy Dougherty told her at least one box was replaced. USPS spokesman George Flood told New Jersey 101.5 in an email that the boxes are being upgraded but he doesn't know the timetable for the replacement.
Flood said that as first-class mail volume declines the USPS works to identify little-used collection boxes.
“Based on the density testing, boxes are identified for potential removal and notices are placed on boxes to give customers an opportunity to comment before the removal decision is made," Flood said, adding that the process is on hold for three months.
The switch in Morristown comes as more states, including New Jersey plan to have most voters cast their ballots via mail instead of going to polling locations. Voting in person remains an option, though New Jerseyans who arrive at the polls will cast provisional ballots that would only be counted once officials verify their mail-in votes were not received.
Trump has said he and Republican legislators are blocking a $25 billion emergency injection sought by the Postal Service, as well as a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election money to the states in the stimulus talks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is cutting short lawmakers' summer recess with a vote expected Saturday on legislation that would prohibit changes at the agency as tensions mount.
“In a time of a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central," Pelosi wrote Sunday in a letter to colleagues, who had been expected to be out of session until September. “Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy are under threat from the president.”
Gov. Phil Murphy told Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday he "unequivocally" supports more funding for the USPS after the agency sent letters to 46 states stating it may not be able to handle the numbers of ballots returned by voters.
The laws, the letter said, create a “risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted."
"The last thing we should be doing is politicizing the Postal Service. It's not as though it exists just for vote by mail. Think about seniors who rely on it for medicines. Our veterans. Our small businesses. Commerce associated with the backbone of this country. We need to fund the Postal Service, we need to root for its success as opposed to the opposite," Murphy said.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez will join postal workers outside the main Union City Post Office on Monday to protest Trump's threats about funding for the postal service.
(Includes material copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
2020 Election: NJ changing the way you vote