A bipartisan State House stand against Postal Service cuts 

House leaders write to Congress decrying service changes

BOSTON ISN’T WASHINGTON, and President Trump’s concerns don’t represent Beacon Hill Republicans.

As if that weren’t clear enough already, Massachusetts House Minority Leader Brad Jones, a North Reading Republican, is spearheading a letter alongside Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo urging Congress to ensure the “safe and timely delivery of mail-in ballots” for the November election.

The joint letter by the Democratic and Republican House leaders started circulating Wednesday to get co-signers. The fact that DeLeo and Jones are the top signers virtually ensures that the entire House membership will sign on.

The letter comes amid national concern over steps Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee, has been taking that could potentially slow down mail service in advance of the November presidential election. DeJoy tried to cut costs by cutting down on overtime, banning extra trips, and taking a number of mail-sorters and mailboxes out of service. DeJoy only backed off his plan amid a national outcry questioning whether the cuts were part of Trump’s strategy to limit the use of voting by mail.

A number of states, including Massachusetts, have vastly expanded mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Trump has raised concerns that this will open the door to increased voter fraud. While both Democrats and Republicans have supported expanding voting by mail this year, Democrats have generally been the strongest proponents of methods to increase ballot access.

In Massachusetts, more than 1 million residents have already requested mail-in ballots. Attorney General Maura Healey, with support from Secretary of State William Galvin, signed onto a multi-state lawsuit challenging the post office’s actions.

While Healey and Galvin are both Democrats, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, has also said the post office needs more money. And the joint House letter shows that the issue does not belong in the domain of Democrats alone.

DeLeo and Jones wrote in an email to House members that although DeJoy announced a temporary delay to certain organizational cost-cutting measures, “We believe there are still many other issues that threaten to undermine the Postal Service’s operations and must be addressed as soon as possible.”

They wrote in their letter, which is addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and will also be sent to the all-Democratic Massachusetts congressional delegation, that lawmakers are “extremely concerned” about a letter the US Postal Service sent to Galvin saying it could not guarantee all mail-in ballots in November would be delivered in time to be counted. “This is completely unacceptable as it would effectively disenfranchise a significant number of American voters,” DeLeo and Jones wrote.

The House leaders continued, “The cost-cutting measures implemented by the Postmaster General directly impact a trustworthy service the American people rely on to receive prescriptions, receive their Social Security checks to pay the bills and now these measures directly impact the peoples’ constitutional right to vote.”

Meet the Author

Shira Schoenberg

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

The bill establishing vote by mail in Massachusetts passed the House 157-1 and the Senate unanimously and was signed into law by Baker. It seems that both passing vote-by-mail and implementing it truly is a bipartisan issue in Massachusetts.