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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Political/War Lounge > Nice Vote-by-Mail system y'got there. Hope nothing happens to it.

Nice Vote-by-Mail system y'got there. Hope nothing happens to it.
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Thorzdad
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Jul 25, 2020, 08:16 AM
 
Trump-backed Postmaster General Plans to Slow Mail Delivery
Attempted murder of your post office

This is already happening. My wife works for a small home healthcare service. Since the beginning of the month, they've started having a big problem with late delivery of unemployment application notices from the state (when a former employee files for unemployment, the state sends a letter to the employer giving them the opportunity to contest the claim) Typically, the employer has ten days to respond to the claim. Since the first of the month, the notices have been arriving so late that they barely have a chance to respond. At least one notice arrived after the deadline.
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subego
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Jul 25, 2020, 08:36 AM
 
     
subego
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Jul 25, 2020, 08:47 AM
 
At the least, I’d say he’s sensitive to the optics of it.

Of note is him stressing this memo is going out to every employee, which in theory puts him more on the hook to keep his promises leaving mail behind is temporary and “not typical”.
     
Thorzdad  (op)
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Jul 25, 2020, 09:08 AM
 
"Temporary" is kind of a nebulous term. For a few weeks? Until right after the election?
I also think it's sadly hilarious that running the USPS more like a business means providing worse service.
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subego
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Jul 25, 2020, 09:28 AM
 
Well, in theory, he’s not directly ordering mail be left behind. He’s ordering things happen on time, and the result will be mail left behind.

Again, in theory, this clears itself up as employees adapt to the new directive things happen on time.

I have no idea how reasonable a request it is for them to adapt.

One of the fundamental questions is whether that pile is going to consistently shrink. If it consistently grows, then the whole thing is over.
     
subego
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Jul 25, 2020, 09:40 AM
 
I don’t know exactly how the post office operates, but it kinda sorta sounds like he’s killing overtime for carriers, which will piss them right the **** off.

Edit: I’m reading “changing the culture” (or whatever he said) as code for “overtime because things are late is a scam”.

Edit 2: he says this problem costs $200 million, but not over what time period. Google said the post office made $71 billion last year.
( Last edited by subego; Jul 25, 2020 at 10:46 AM. )
     
reader50
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Jul 25, 2020, 04:11 PM
 
I've read of states that refuse vote-by-mail that arrives after the election. California accepts based on the postmark - anything mailed on or before election day is accepted for counting. Up to 2 weeks after, I believe (not sure on the final cutoff).

Slowing down mail may be an election ploy to get more ballots rejected. Especially by anyone who votes close to the election. This would plausibly help party-line voters. ie - people who simply vote by party can mail their ballots in early. Voters who research candidates and decide closer to the election (informed voters) are more likely to mail in later.

So delaying election mail could become more like jury duty. Where you're entitled to a trial by your uninformed peers.
     
subego
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Jul 25, 2020, 09:16 PM
 
Again, I’m making assumptions, but if there’s a pile of mail on the floor at the end of the day, I assume that mail goes out the next day.

So, theoretically, we’re talking about a one day delay max.

I’m actually more worried about how the “you can’t end late” directive. That’s going to hose people at the end of the route.


As an aside, I like the post office, but gawd I ****ing hate mail.
     
subego
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Jul 25, 2020, 11:34 PM
 
As another aside, my carrier, who I assume and hope is talking on the phone, curses like a sailor at high volume.

All day.
     
Brien
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Jul 26, 2020, 11:07 AM
 
If they would offer a proper way to opt out of all the junk mail there’d be less to deliver. Imagine that.
     
subego
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Jul 26, 2020, 11:28 AM
 
I imagine that’s a cash cow.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Aug 2, 2020, 03:06 PM
 
     
Thorzdad  (op)
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Aug 4, 2020, 09:54 AM
 
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Thorzdad  (op)
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Aug 10, 2020, 12:29 PM
 
Friday Night Massacre at USPS! Trump's Postmaster General ousts key officials and managers.
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reader50
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Aug 10, 2020, 12:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
Friday Night Massacre at USPS! Trump's Postmaster General ousts key officials and managers.
I read the article through. Democrat congress members spoke up. Independent experts spoke up. But I didn't see a single quote from a Republican lawmaker. Leaving out Republicans from the story is obvious news tilting - their protests should have been included in the story.
     
subego
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Aug 10, 2020, 01:51 PM
 
Here’s the WaPo article, which seems to be the basis of the article above.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/busin...igation-dejoy/

Here are three quotes.

“Twenty-three postal executives were reassigned or displaced”

“All told, 33 staffers included in the old postal hierarchy either kept their jobs or were reassigned in the restructuring”

“The structure displaces postal executives with decades of experience, moving some to new positions and others out of leadership roles entirely”

I can’t make heads or tails of this.

All told, 33 staffers were reassigned, except for the ones who kept their assignment.

Twenty-three executives were reassigned, except for the ones who were displaced.

Displaced means the same thing as reassignment, except when it means ousted.


This is like doublespeak performance art.
     
Thorzdad  (op)
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Aug 13, 2020, 08:59 PM
 
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subego
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Aug 13, 2020, 11:24 PM
 
There are 264 distribution facilities.

Vice was able to find 5 which are removing machines.

At best, this is a woefully incomplete investigation on Vice’s part.
     
reader50
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Aug 13, 2020, 11:57 PM
 
By chance, I've been ordering things lately. Mostly small items delivered through the USPS. They're slipping up more than usual, missing a higher number of ETA projections. They used to beat their own estimates 1/4 - 1/3 of the time. It's been more like 5% lately.

One item was coming across the country, from PA. Tracking showed it reached a Los Angeles sorting hub. No updates for 3 days - then it was scanned back in PA again. I've seen mistakes like that about once per decade.
     
OreoCookie
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Aug 14, 2020, 12:14 AM
 
I have to say, this is really, really worrying. It's one thing to contest a recount of hanging chads in Florida (the ballots were badly designed and not out of malice), but it is another potentially millions of people's votes would not be counted. As usual, Trump has already said the quiet part out loud. If that happens, I think the US is going to explode.
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Thorzdad  (op)
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Aug 14, 2020, 08:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
There are 264 distribution facilities.
Vice was able to find 5 which are removing machines.
At best, this is a woefully incomplete investigation on Vice’s part.
Are you saying Vice should have sat on the story until the damage was complete?
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andi*pandi
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Aug 14, 2020, 12:39 PM
 
     
subego
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Aug 14, 2020, 12:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
Are you saying Vice should have sat on the story until the damage was complete?
Excluded middle.
     
andi*pandi
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Aug 14, 2020, 01:37 PM
 
refers to vice article, but a bit more quotes:
https://news.yahoo.com/postal-worker...203218629.html

Folks, government property is being looted.
     
andi*pandi
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Aug 14, 2020, 01:47 PM
 
     
subego
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Aug 14, 2020, 02:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
refers to vice article, but a bit more quotes:
https://news.yahoo.com/postal-worker...203218629.html

Folks, government property is being looted.
Did a little digging, and it turns out this was planned months ago, when Brennan was still the Postmaster General.

For the record, she was appointed by Obama.
     
andi*pandi
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Aug 14, 2020, 04:52 PM
 
Yet they are saying the reasoning was the lower volume of mail due to covid?
     
reader50
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Aug 14, 2020, 04:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Did a little digging, and it turns out this was planned months ago, when Brennan was still the Postmaster General.
Got a link? That would be somewhat reassuring.

I've also been wondering what's happening to the removed sorting machines. Going into storage, or being smashed?
     
subego
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Aug 14, 2020, 09:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Got a link?
https://www.21cpw.com/wp-content/upl..._5-15-2020.pdf
     
Thorzdad  (op)
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Aug 14, 2020, 09:08 PM
 
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andi*pandi
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Aug 14, 2020, 09:18 PM
 
If that source is accurate, it shows that in Feb USPS planned to decrease in Q3 and Q4, which ended July 28. Why are there machines being taken offline now? Is that additional, or did the planned decreases not happen as scheduled and are happening now? And nowhere in there did I see anything about blue boxes being removed.
     
subego
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Aug 14, 2020, 09:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
If that source is accurate, it shows that in Feb USPS planned to decrease in Q3 and Q4, which ended July 28. Why are there machines being taken offline now? Is that additional, or did the planned decreases not happen as scheduled and are happening now? And nowhere in there did I see anything about blue boxes being removed.
Every article I’ve seen claims it’s the latter. The planned decreases didn’t happen as scheduled.

Why would blue boxes be in a communication about sorting machines?
     
subego
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Aug 14, 2020, 10:15 PM
 
“If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,”

Translation: Take what I’m offering or you get nothing.

“That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”

Translation: If you get nothing, that will break mail-in voting, and it will be your fault since you didn’t take my offer.


In other words, I don’t get anything even close to what that headline asserts.
     
subego
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Aug 14, 2020, 10:59 PM
 
Here’s the breakdown on this.

At the end of May, the Postal Service sent a letter to all the election authorities.

https://about.usps.com/newsroom/nati...ction-mail.pdf

The tl;dr is they set forth explicitly first class mail takes a week. Which means the election authorities need to allow a week for the ballot to arrive to the voter, and then a week for the ballot to be returned.

The warning letters are to the election authorities who didn’t do this.
     
OreoCookie
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Aug 14, 2020, 11:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
“If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,”

Translation: Take what I’m offering or you get nothing.

“That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”

Translation: If you get nothing, that will break mail-in voting, and it will be your fault since you didn’t take my offer.
Your argument rides on the assumption that your “translation” are correct.
Given Trump's and the GOP's past behavior, I don't think these are apt translations.

The election strategists in both parties know full well who has voted for whom in what proportions when: early mail-in ballots overrepresent Republicans, also because the GOP has invested over a decade into asking people to vote by mail early. In-person voting and last-minute mail-in ballots have a much larger share of Democratic voters. That might also be a basis for Republicans to cry foul and claim wrongdoing when this has a simple and coherent explanation based on demographics. Tl;dr: all these shenanigans will likely depress Democratic votes, and GOP operatives know it.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Here’s the breakdown on this.

At the end of May, the Postal Service sent a letter to all the election authorities. […]
Now we have August and are in the middle of second waves everywhere.
Even if those were the plans and the reasoning behind this were completely benign and unpolitical, nothing explains why you wouldn't want to strengthen the US postal service given that the situation has changed and a lot of states (who set the rules) want to have more people vote by mail.
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subego
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Aug 16, 2020, 02:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Now we have August and are in the middle of second waves everywhere.
Even if those were the plans and the reasoning behind this were completely benign and unpolitical, nothing explains why you wouldn't want to strengthen the US postal service given that the situation has changed and a lot of states (who set the rules) want to have more people vote by mail.
The Postal Service either has the resources to accomplish the task in the amount of time they’ve demanded, or they don’t.

The only reason to strengthen the Postal Service is if they don’t.

Under normal circumstances, in one week the Postal Service moves 1.3 billion pieces of First Class mail. Even if every eligible voter in the country mailed a ballot on the exact same day, it would account for only 12% over their average.

Note, the Postal Service wouldn’t even need to deliver all of them by the end of the week, at least a third would only require a postmark.
     
OreoCookie
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Aug 16, 2020, 07:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The Postal Service either has the resources to accomplish the task in the amount of time they’ve demanded, or they don’t.

The only reason to strengthen the Postal Service is if they don’t.

Under normal circumstances, in one week the Postal Service moves 1.3 billion pieces of First Class mail. Even if every eligible voter in the country mailed a ballot on the exact same day, it would account for only 12% over their average.
The postal service has already sent warnings to ~46 states telling them that there may be delays and problems with the delivery of ballots, so at least the Postal Service thinks it doesn’t have the resources to ensure proper handling of mail-in ballots. To make sure swift delivery of mail continues, the postal service has asked for billions in assistance, which it hasn’t received. If the USPS repeatedly says it doesn’t have the resources and there is evidence of increasing delays, shouldn’t that answer your question?
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subego
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Aug 16, 2020, 07:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
The postal service has already sent warnings to ~46 states telling them that there may be delays and problems with the delivery of ballots
To repeat.

The Postal Service informed election authorities back in May that First Class mail requires a week.

The warnings were to the authorities who did not allow for this time.
     
subego
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Aug 16, 2020, 08:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
To make sure swift delivery of mail continues, the postal service has asked for billions in assistance, which it hasn’t received.
Which Postal Service official has claimed delivering of ballots as promised hinges on receiving these funds?
     
reader50
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Aug 16, 2020, 09:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Under normal circumstances, in one week the Postal Service moves 1.3 billion pieces of First Class mail. Even if every eligible voter in the country mailed a ballot on the exact same day, it would account for only 12% over their average.
This is reassuring, and it's nice to see some real numbers.

However, systems near their capacity limit behave badly when pushed beyond 100%. And it's worrying that USPS is removing capacity in advance of an expected increase in volume. Even if that increase were only 5%, going past 100% could have cascade effects. It's not implausible for a weeklong delay to happen.

The postmaster-general is approving removal of excess capacity, along with forbidding overtime. And forbidding extra truck runs. All the things USPS normally does to stretch capacity in a crunch. Plus demoting or reassigning experienced top management, who have been through previous crunch times.

Lack of excess capacity is what causes things to go wrong if you add a few percent to the load. Add Donald's admission he wants to cripple mail-in ballot service, and (R) realization that they're facing a blue wave in November .... and you have plausible reason for a major Trump donor to hamstring a key government agency.
     
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Aug 16, 2020, 09:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The Postal Service informed election authorities back in May that First Class mail requires a week.

The warnings were to the authorities who did not allow for this time.
You don’t need to repeat anything, I understand that this wasn’t the first warning. But as far as I know it hasn’t happened before that delays in the USPS mail delivery could disenfranchise voters. (If that has happened before, please let me know.)
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Which Postal Service official has claimed delivering of ballots as promised hinges on receiving these funds?
That’s a weirdly narrow ask and seems to ignore all context. The story is widely reported by reputable news sources. And the context is quite clear:
- You have USPS financial problems due to Congress forcing them to pay for retirement benefits in advance.
- You have aggressive moves by a new Postmaster General (who has known conflicts of interests, including significant financial investments in direct competitors to USPS) to cut all “excess capacity” in an election year right before an election, where more people are expected to vote by mail due to an ongoing epidemic.
- The Postmaster General’s measures make it harder to deal with the peak that we can expect to happen due to mail-in ballots. Peaks during e. g. the holiday season are dealt with by allowing USPS employees to work overtime. But overtime is cut, which prevents the USPS from dealing with this.
- Disassembling mail sorting machines will mean that postal workers will have to do the jobs that machine used to do before, and therefore they have less time to actually go out and deliver mail.
- Trump openly said he’d prefer not to fund USPS to “prevent voter fraud by mail-in ballots”.
- USPS informs the states that some voters may be disenfranchised because some state election laws do not allow for enough time to ensure all votes are counted.
- Just introducing more friction will cause fewer votes to be cast.
And yeah, I agree with you that USPS could easily deal with it, but a concerted political effort is tying their shoelaces together, puts their arms in a straightjacket and gives them less time to do their job.
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reader50
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Aug 17, 2020, 02:27 PM
 
The Guardian has taken a closer look at the USPS changes. Looking into Postmaster DeJoy, and his changes.
[a postal worker] “If you asked me a month ago can the postal service handle an influx of mail-in ballots, I would have said, ‘We’ve been through two world wars and a depression, we’ve been doing this for more than 200 years,’” he said.

“Now, I’m not so sure."
The changes are reportedly causing a growing pile of late mail in multiple post offices. That mail gets delivered later -- but by then, newer mail has piled up to take its place. It sounds like the piles continue to grow.

About handling 100+ million mail-in ballots, keep in mind those ballots are first mailed to each eligible voter. They go through the USPS twice. And on the to-the-voter side, they're sent to 100% of eligible voters. Even if only 60% respond, that's still 1.6x as many extra first-class items carried vs the number of eligible voters. With potential delays on both transfers.

I think this is significant to the election. Especially if the piles keep growing daily for the next couple months.
     
subego
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Aug 17, 2020, 03:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
You don’t need to repeat anything, I understand that this wasn’t the first warning. But as far as I know it hasn’t happened before that delays in the USPS mail delivery could disenfranchise voters. (If that has happened before, please let me know.)
The claim comes from the Washington Post article “Postal Service warns 46 states their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots”.

This is a rather disheartening attempt at misdirection. For any reasonable reading of the word “delayed” (i.e., “slowed” or “later than expected”) the headline is patently false. The Postal Service warned of no such thing.

What the Postal Service warned of is an on-time delivery of a ballot being later than needed.

To define this as a “delayed delivery” is valid English, because a delay does in fact exist between when it’s needed and when it’s delivered. However, in this context, it’s shamefully dishonest.
     
subego
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Aug 17, 2020, 03:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
I think this is significant to the election. Especially if the piles keep growing daily for the next couple months.
On it!

Originally Posted by subego View Post
One of the fundamental questions is whether that pile is going to consistently shrink. If it consistently grows, then the whole thing is over.
     
andi*pandi
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Aug 17, 2020, 03:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
To define this as a “delayed delivery” is valid English, because a delay does in fact exist between when it’s needed and when it’s delivered. However, in this context, it’s shamefully dishonest.
Sounds like a math problem: If you average the delivery times from January, February and March, Letter X takes 2 days to get from Point A to Point B, and in November Letter Y takes 14 days to get from the same Point A to Point B, how many votes don't get counted in time?
     
subego
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Aug 17, 2020, 08:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Sounds like a math problem: If you average the delivery times from January, February and March, Letter X takes 2 days to get from Point A to Point B, and in November Letter Y takes 14 days to get from the same Point A to Point B, how many votes don't get counted in time?
This is absolutely a math problem. We even have the numbers.

Point A to B is universally “within one week”. Any ballot which takes longer than a week the Postal Service has delayed.

The headline makes it appear as if this is the type of delay the Postal Service was warning about, but it’s not.
     
subego
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Aug 17, 2020, 08:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
This is reassuring, and it's nice to see some real numbers.

However, systems near their capacity limit behave badly when pushed beyond 100%. And it's worrying that USPS is removing capacity in advance of an expected increase in volume. Even if that increase were only 5%, going past 100% could have cascade effects. It's not implausible for a weeklong delay to happen.

The postmaster-general is approving removal of excess capacity, along with forbidding overtime. And forbidding extra truck runs. All the things USPS normally does to stretch capacity in a crunch. Plus demoting or reassigning experienced top management, who have been through previous crunch times.

Lack of excess capacity is what causes things to go wrong if you add a few percent to the load. Add Donald's admission he wants to cripple mail-in ballot service, and (R) realization that they're facing a blue wave in November .... and you have plausible reason for a major Trump donor to hamstring a key government agency.
If I understand correctly, the 1.3 billion number is an average. How far from maximum capacity is conjecture.

My instincts tell me mail-in ballots will barely put a dent in the thing.
     
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Aug 17, 2020, 10:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The claim comes from the Washington Post article “Postal Service warns 46 states their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots”.

This is a rather disheartening attempt at misdirection. For any reasonable reading of the word “delayed” (i.e., “slowed” or “later than expected”) the headline is patently false. The Postal Service warned of no such thing.
I think you are mincing words here. Has it happened before within the last, say, 50 years that the USPS could not guarantee that mail-in ballots would not be delivered on time to be counted? I don’t think so (but correct me if I am wrong). Now if I understand your argument correctly, then nothing has changed since the guaranteed USPS first-class mail delivery times have not changed. I have read one of these letters, and at least when it comes to First Class mail delivery times, the USPS recommends to send ballots earlier (7 days rather than 2-5 days, I’ll get into the details below).

Plus, the important issue is not that the USPS could not deal with the mail volume — it seems under normal circumstances it could. The issue is that by all accounts it seems everything is done to hamper the USPS’s ability to deal with this surge in mail volume.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
To define this as a “delayed delivery” is valid English, because a delay does in fact exist between when it’s needed and when it’s delivered. However, in this context, it’s shamefully dishonest.
Please have a look at the letters directly, I don’t think it is “shamefully dishonest” but entirely accurate. (Disclaimer: I have only read the one directed at Arkansas’s Secretary of State, but I assume the others are essentially identical.) The letter states that USPS First Class mail delivery takes 2-5 days after it is received. (On the USPS website claim is 1-3 business days, which is less than 2-5 days; I realize that if you ship over a weekend, this could increase to 5 days.) And USPS recommends in the letter to “… allow 1 week for delivery to voters”, which is longer than 2-5 days. That is, the USPS is warning of delays in the delivery. While the letter does not mention the pandemic explicitly, it speaks of “contingencies” such as “weather and other unforeseen events”. Clearly, the USPS expects that the volume of mail-in ballots to be larger than usual. Which combined with the issues we have mentioned before, which hamper the USPS to deal with surges in the mail volume.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Thorzdad  (op)
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Aug 18, 2020, 02:44 PM
 
PG DeJoy announced today he’s putting his restructuring on-hold until after the election.

The cynical side of me thinks this just means he’s done just enough damage, in the right places, to have the desired effect. Anyway, yay.
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andi*pandi
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Aug 18, 2020, 02:54 PM
 
Exactly. All those mail sorting machines have already been sold on ebay.
     
 
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