Sunday, August 16, 2020

FLASHBACK: The Obama-Biden Administration Removed Thousands of USPS Collection Boxes


(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Did you hear the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump is sabotaging the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) by removing mail collection boxes in several states?

Yeah, it’s a real doozy, but apparently that’s what the left wants us to believe. Outcry over the removal of collection boxes actually forced the USPS to suspend the removal of collection boxes until after the election.

Joe Biden even chimed in on the so-called controversy, calling it “bizarre.”

“I was joking earlier with a couple on the call, ‘I wonder if you’re outside trying to hold down your mailboxes.’ They’re going around literally with tractor-trailers picking up mailboxes,” he said. “You oughta go online and check out what they’re doing in Oregon. I mean, it’s bizarre!”

“President Trump has made no secret about his desire to suppress voting in the November 2020 election,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley. “His effort to raise doubts about the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to deliver ballots cast by mail is just one example of how he hopes to dissuade Americans from voting.”

Democrats are calling the removal of collection boxes “voter suppression,” and Senator Jon Tester (D-Mt.) is calling for an investigation.

Pop singer-turned-political-whiner Taylor Swift even accused Trump of being behind a “calculated dismantling of USPS.”

But the fact is the removal of mail collection boxes has been going on for years as part of cost-cutting efforts for the postal service and had nothing to do with the 2020 election.

In September 2016, the USPS inspector general noted that “Nationally, the number of collection boxes declined by more than 12,000 in the past 5 years.” This means that the USPS, during the Obama-Biden administration, removed thousands of mail collection boxes. Was this a diabolical plan by Obama and Biden to suppress the vote in 2020? Did Trump make them do it?

The decision to do so was explained thusly:

Some customers have complained the U.S. Postal Service has gone too far and removed too many collection boxes in neighborhoods. They’ve also questioned whether this effort is saving USPS money in the long run.

It’s a tough balancing act for the Postal Service. Some collection boxes are barely used and are expensive to maintain. On the other hand, mail collection boxes are a visible representation of the Postal Service to the American public, and their disappearance has been noted. They also are reliable, secure, and convenient receptacles for mail.

As part of its efforts to keep its collection infrastructure proportionate to customers’ needs at a reasonable cost, the Postal Service has eliminated underused collection boxes that on average receive fewer than 25 pieces a day; it has also added collection boxes where they are convenient for customers.

USPS spokeswoman Kimberly Frum told The Hill that installation and removal of USPS collection boxes has been going on for decades. “It is a fluid process and figures can vary from day-to-day. Historically, mail boxes have been removed for lack of use and installed in growth areas,” she explained. “When a collection box consistently receives very small amounts of mail for months on end, it costs the Postal Service money in fuel and workhours for letter carriers to drive to the mailbox and collect the mail. Removing the box is simply good business sense in that respect. It is important to note that anyone with a residential or business mailbox can use it as a vehicle to send outgoing mail.”

She also noted that removal of a box is made on a case-by-case basis and low-volume boxes are kept if they are the only means of sending mail in certain areas.

“In the past few years, greater emphasis has been placed on stabilizing the number of collection boxes in use and relocating low-use boxes to high traffic areas such as shopping centers, business parks, grocery stores, etc., for increased customer convenience,” Frum said. “Additionally, collection times vary depending on location and may be changed based on transportation schedules. In the event a collection box schedule changes, advanced notice would be placed on the box to inform customers.”

The USPS had been trying to save money long before Trump was in office, and the strategic placement of removal of collection boxes is a part of that. This isn’t about a plot to undermine the USPS. If Trump was trying to sabotage the 2020 election by removing collection boxes, I guess Obama and Biden were too.