Clean up the USPS mess

Told in school that a really, really big test was coming up and that passing it was critical not just to you but also to your entire school, you’d probably do all you could to be prepared. Were you told that no expense would be spared in providing resources for you to prepare for the exam and you probably would be confident of earning an A.

But then, you aren’t the U.S. Postal Service.

If this year’s presidential election is proving anything to Americans, it is that the USPS is a wreck.

From rank-and-file mail sorters to the agency’s top brass, it has been clear for months that the election would be something of a test for the USPS.

Millions of voters have chosen to use mail-in ballots for this election. Many have done so out of fear of contracting COVID-19 if they went to the polls on Nov. 3.

Warnings — backed by a few horror stories from primary elections — have gone out that lost ballots and delays in returning them to election officials would be a problem. Nonsense, we have been told. Attempts to suppress the vote by discouraging use of the mails for elections, it has been added by some.

Not quite. It was reported last week that despite knowing how important it is that election ballots be handled with the utmost care, the USPS is having trouble. Postal data through Oct. 9 indicates that nearly every Postal Service region was unable to meet the goal of having at least 95 percent of first-class mail delivered within five days. In some states, including some categorized as battlegrounds in the presidential election, the 95 percent goal as missed by wide margins, The Associated Press reported.

Understand that the vast majority of mailed-in ballots must be delivered within the states from which they are mailed. Nearly every one ought to be deliverable within a day or two.

Yet the USPS has not been able to manage even five days in a significant percentage of cases involving first-class mail.

Understand this: The overwhelming majority of the Postal Service’s nearly 470,000 career employees work hard and conscientiously to provide the best service they can. This is not their problem. It is one of management — and one that has not been addressed for many years.

Candidates for president and Congress have discussed and sometimes debated a number of issues this year. Clearly, how to clean up the mess that is the Postal Service ought to be on the list.


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