WEDNESDAY, Aug. 19 — An increasing nationwide clog in mail delivery is pushing some elected officials to demand solutions from the federal government in order to ensure voters across Michigan aren’t disenfranchised by service interruptions at the U.S. Postal Service.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, whose district includes all of Ingham County, spoke today at the post office on Merrill Avenue in Lansing to push back against recent disruptions and delivery delays. And they each pointed blame at the Trump administration and new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
“We’re here because, amazingly, in the United States of America, the postal service is at risk,” Stabenow said. “It’s a big deal when there are folks trying to create chaos and undermine the post office. We have been getting thousands and thousands of calls and emails from people.”
The country in recent weeks has seen a largely Democrat-driven firestorm over Trump’s appointment of DeJoy — a Republican mega-donor — to postmaster general. Nationally, mail-sorting machines and drop boxes have been removed, employee overtime hours have been cut and delays have reportedly become increasingly commonplace since he took the job.
And with a record-breaking number of mail-in ballots expected in November, those service adjustments — which include a large sorting machine recently removed from Lansing — have sparked concerns over whether ballots will be delivered on time to be counted for the election.
Those delay-inducing budget cuts from DeJoy were designed to mitigate billion-dollar losses. DeJoy reversed course this week, saying he will postpone operational changes until after the election. But several sorting machines, including one in Lansing, have already been removed.
Stabenow said the damage may have already been done. And it’s time to make quick repairs.
“That’s good but it’s not good enough,” Stabenow said. “We need answers to how and when the postal service will reverse the damage already caused because of its disruption in services, and we need a permanent end to the harmful policies that are hurting our families in Michigan.”
Postal officials in Lansing said they haven’t had much trouble clearing out the daily mail flow in Lansing once it arrives from Grand Rapids, but continued service adjustments have caused some packages to arrive in the capital city up to 10 days behind schedule in recent weeks.
“The problem isn’t mail in Lansing going out. It’s coming in late already,” union officials said.
Those delays obviously mean local residents are seeing delays at the mailbox. Slotkin’s office yesterday said about one-third of citizen complaints in recent weeks have been tied to delays — including checks to businesses, credit card payments and prescription medication deliveries.
Today, she said about 80% of the calls and emails to her office are about the postal service.
Stabenow said a Lake Orion man went without his mailed medication for five days. A woman in Cadillac never received her mail-in ballot application. A Twining woman had her credit card canceled because two payments didn’t make it to their destination in a timely enough fashion.
Slotkin also said about 8 million prescription medications were sent in Michigan last year and that about 70% of veterans currently receive medication through the mail. Delays threaten to not only disenfranchise voters, but could lead to a life-or-death medical situation, Slotkin said.
“This issue touches every American. There isn’t one person in our country that doesn’t feel some connection to the mailbox,” Slotkin explained. “Even for those that aren’t experiencing delays right now, the thing I’m really worried about is the long-term faith in the post office.”
Agency officials, accordingly, have warned states — including Michigan — that it may not be able to meet their deadlines for delivering last-minute ballots. And with DeJoy’s appointment and Trump’s opposition to mail-in voting, ballot concerns are still brewing statewide.
DeJoy will testify before Senate and House committees later this week. Michigan has also joined a coalition of other states in filing suit against the federal government over recent postal service changes and the potential impact it could have on the November election.
“Leave my postal delivery person alone and let them do their job. Don’t close drop boxes and take away equipment,” Stabenow said. “Our health, our businesses and the future of our democracy depend on making sure our postal service is strong and protected.”