The House Oversight Committee summoned Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Wednesday for a record of the widespread mail delivery delays that have put the postal service in the political spotlight as it prepares to handle a rush of ballots in the November election.
The subpoena, soliciting documents related to operational changes that have slowed the Post and the agency's plans for the presidential election, comes after the committee's chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, said DeJoy had followed up the panel's requests not adequately answered for further information.
"It is clear that a subpoena has become necessary to advance the committee's investigation and inform about possible legislative action," Maloney, D-N.Y., said this week.
A key Republican financier and President Donald Trump, DeJoy, took over the agency in June after a career in logistics and launched a series of policy changes that delayed the mail and raised concerns about the agency's ability to process postal ballots.
In the past few weeks he has appeared twice in front of the congress to report on the removal of the agency's blue collection boxes and mail sorting machines as well as changes in truck operations and overtime which, according to postal workers, are causing delays. Amid public outcry, DeJoy said he had stopped some of the changes until after the election.
The Democrats have pushed for increased surveillance of the postal service following DeJoy's operational changes and Trump's unsubstantiated claims that mail-in polls will lead to widespread fraud. The president has also admitted that he withheld emergency money from the agency to make it difficult for the service to process a record number of postal ballot papers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The committee is also asking for information on how DeJoy, whose appointment broke a long line of postmaster generals with previous experience at the agency, was selected for the job, as well as any communication between DeJoy and the Trump campaign. It also requests DeJoy's unedited calendar, as well as a record of possible communications with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
In a letter to the committee on Friday, DeJoy said the postal administration had expanded an election mail task force with local officials and that his staff had been working to provide the materials requested. He said that election mail was his “No. 1 Priority ”, and that in the weeks leading up to the election he will approve the expanded use of overtime, additional truck trips and other measures to ensure that the ballot papers are delivered on time.
A spokesman for the postal service said the agency will comply with its legal obligations.
“We continue to be surprised and confused that Chair Maloney insists on submitting a subpoena to the Postal Service while maintaining the proper preparation of information in the ongoing dialogue with her staff on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. We intend to fully comply with our legal obligations, ”the statement said.
The subpoena gave DeJoy a time limit at 12:00 p.m. on September 16 to produce the recordings.
Separately, an inspection by the Inspector General of the Postal Service found that more than a million postal ballot papers were sent to voters late in the primaries. The watchdog called for increased cooperation between states and the agency ahead of the November elections.
According to the report, state electoral bodies sent more than a million ballot papers within a week of their area code, which poses a "high risk" that they cannot be filled out in time and returned for counting. In thousands of cases across the country, ballot papers were posted after state shipping deadlines or on election day.
The Inspector General also identified a handful of "concerns" about election mail, including ballot papers sent without barcode tracking technology, mail-in ballot papers that are difficult to process, postmark requirements, and outdated voter addresses.
"Solving these problems requires higher-level partnerships and collaboration between the postal service and various state officials, including secretaries to state and state electoral bodies," the auditors wrote. "The timely delivery of elections and political mail is required to ensure the integrity of the US electoral process."
According to the report, election officials in Kentucky and New York sent out more than 600,000 postal ballots late in their primaries. In Pennsylvania, 500 ballots were sent out after election day. Seventeen states sent more than half a million ballots after the deadlines were posted, and eleven states sent 44,000 ballots on or the day before election day. An analysis of the political post and the election post in seven post processing centers between April and June also showed that around 1.6 million items of mail were not delivered on time.
The report did not assess any controversial operational changes made by DeJoy. The Inspector General's Office has launched a separate investigation into these changes.
DeJoy has recommended that voters request postal votes at least 15 days before the election and then return them within seven days of election day.
"To be clear, these recommendations are intended to ensure that ballots are cast and counted and should in no way be misconstrued to imply that we have no confidence in our ability to cast those ballots. We can and will do with that Bypass volume. " of election mail we receive, ”DeJoy told the House Oversight Committee last week.
The Associated Press produced this coverage with the assistance of Carnegie Corporation of New York.