South Florida postal workers held a protest Tuesday, calling changes inside the postal system an attempt to undermine mail delivery with the fall election on the horizon.
The postal employees are at odds with their boss, US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, over efforts he says are to improve service. The dispute comes less than a month before vote by mail ballots start going out to South Florida voters.
A group of postal workers stood outside a post office in downtown Miami Tuesday, saying they really don’t want to get into any politics, but claim the man who President Donald Trump appointed in June to run the post office is making debilitating changes that are slowing down the mail already and could have an impact on mail-in ballots being counted.
The demonstration was one of many across the country Tuesday.
"The postal service belongs to the people. We are the postal workers but the postal service belongs to the people," said Wanda Harris, the president of the local postal worker's union.
People the union said aren’t getting mail on time because the man who took over in June took out some high-speed mail sorters, locked postal boxes, and slashed overtime.
“We want them to get their mail, but we have a Postmaster General that came in on June 15th and changed everything, chaos across the county,” Harris said. “We been doing this over 200 years and mail-in ballots have been going on since the Civil War. It's never been a problem, but it's an election year, census year, the pandemic, it's a race issue, there’s just so much going on in '20 and now they want to mess with the United States Postal Service.”
One special area of concern voiced by Harris and two Democratic Congresswomen, who were at Tuesday's protest, is mail-in ballots and them getting to the elections departments on time this fall.
“Just yesterday in the House Oversight Committee we saw Postmaster General admit that under his leadership service has been delayed, and also admit that he will not reverse any changes and the damage has already been done," Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy denied your vote will be slowed.
“The Postal Service is capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time,” DeJoy said last week.
He has also defended is actions in the Congressional hearings and announced further changes are being placed on hold until after November 3rd. The postal union said damage has already been done.
When it comes to voters choosing to vote with ballots sent to their homes, the numbers for South Florida show record numbers for the August Primary.
In Miami-Dade almost 263,000 voters cast mail-in ballots, about 62% of the vote. That’s up almost 20%from two years ago.
About 3,100 ballots came too late to be counted. Those amount to just over 1% and it's about the same for those who made errors and their vote wasn’t counted; just over 3,500 voters did that.
In Broward, 67% of voters used the mail-in ballot option.
Peter Antonacci, the Broward Elections Supervisor, told us, “The outreach appears to have been very successful. We had about 420,000 vote by mail requests, many of those responsive to our overture to seek out a vote by mail ballot," Broward Elections Supervisor Peter Antonacci said.
Almost 2,600 ballots arrived after the deadline on August 18th at 7 p.m. to be counted in Broward.
Antonacci said that a significant number of voters chose to use the ballot sent to their home, but instead of sending it in the mail, took them to drop boxes around the county.
Of course, the elections officials don’t have anything to do with the postal service but his big message was vote early and in about three weeks the ballots for the November 3rd election will start heading to South Florida homes.
Miami-Dade officials said overseas ballots will go out on September 23rd, and on September 30th, mail ballots will head to Miami-Dade homes.