1907 postcard, Smithsonian National Postal Museum. 'The car was designed to allow a clerk to sort mail while the car was moving.'

Almost immediately after Republican megadonor Louis DeJoy started working as Donald Trump's pet postmaster general, on-time delivery rates for US First Class mail started plunging, according to data analyzed by the Guardian. When DeJoy took over the US Postal Service in mid-June of this year, he instituted a bunch of "reforms" aimed at saving money, but which also led to reports of huge slowdowns in mail delivery — just as Donald Trump was ramping up his bullshit attacks on the legitimacy of voting by mail.

Now, with some new data from a federal lawsuit filed against the USPS, there are numbers to back up the anecdotes from postal carriers and customers about long delays in delivery times caused by DeJoy's "reforms," which included such innovations as cuts in postal carrier overtime, sending trucks from sorting facilities at a set time regardless of whether all the day's mail had been loaded, and prohibiting carriers from returning to pick up mail from post offices.

Gosh, it wasn't just disgruntled employees, or political bloggers who ended up cancelling online orders after they seemingly vanished after arriving at the post office in Boise but never made it any farther. The numbers show a clear decline in on-time deliveries.


The Guardian presents the national data in a nifty animated map that we haven't the patience to make into a GIF, so instead we'll grab a couple of screenshots. For most of the first part of 2020 — including several months during the pandemic — USPS was delivering an average of 93 percent of First Class mail on time, just a little bit shy of the agency's goal of 95 percent. Just look at the mostly happy blue-green 'Merica!

By July, and August, the on-time rates were getting ugly.

The redness of those states has nothing to do with their political outlook! It's a fun little infographic; you can even click on your own postal region to see how it fared in the Post Office Apocalypse.

The article notes that some regions that were hit especially hard just happen to be in swing states, which is quite the coincidence!

In the postal district for northern Ohio, on-time delivery rates dropped as low as 63.60% in mid August. In the Detroit postal district, on-time delivery fell to 61.01% the same month.

On August 18, DeJoy announced that his improvements to the Postal Service, which couldn't possibly have led to any slowdowns in mail delivery, would be put on hold until after November's election, and on September 17, a federal judge in Washington state ordered the Postal Service to reverse all policies that might interfere with delivery of election mail. Yesterday, a second federal court in New York (in the case whence the Guardian's numbers came) issued another order telling the Postal Service to make sure ballots and other election mail will be delivered on time. So hooray for that!

Judge Stanley Bastian, the judge in the Washington case, wrote in his opinion that "at the heart of DeJoy's and the Postal Service's actions is voter disenfranchisement," and that the changes in Postal Service procedures reflected an

"intentional effort on the part of the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections, especially given that 72% of the ... high speed mail sorting machines that were decommissioned were located in counties where Hillary Clinton received the most votes in 2016."

Bastian ordered decommissioned equipment to be reconnected or replaced, but left a hell of an out by saying that should be done if "any post office, distribution center, or other postal facility will be unable to process election mail for the November 2020 election in accordance with First Class delivery standards" — which we suppose gives USPS some wiggle room for the machines it threw in dumpsters. Both courts ordered that election mail be handled with First Class delivery standards, regardless of whether states or counties paid lower bulk-rate postage.

Despite DeJoy's promise to straighten up and fly right, on-time delivery still hasn't quite recovered. Nationally, for the week of September 5, the on-time rate was only up to 88.7 percent, and some parts of the country are still seeing even slower delivery: "In the Baltimore postal district, for example, the on-time delivery rate remained at less than 60% at the end of August." (The two court rulings came after the last data collected for the New York lawsuit.)

As you'd expect, the Postal Service gave the Guardian a sublimely unhelpful comment, refusing to comment specifically on the data analysis because it's part of ongoing litigation, but offering a blandly corporate general assurance that on-time delivery is continuing to improve, as are on-time departures of trucks from sorting facilities (if the statement said anything about whether the trucks are actually full of sorted mail when they depart, the Guardian didn't say). Also, everyone should rejoice and be glad at Louis DeJoy's commitment to operationalizing and implementing dynamic buzzwords:

"The improvements are a result of the Postmaster General's commitment to drive operational discipline and improve efficiencies across processing, transportation and delivery," the agency said in its statement.

Are you not reassured, America?

[Guardian / CNN / AP]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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