Activists in Washington, D.C. Saturday morning surrounded the condo building of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy with noisemakers, pots and pans, and air horns designed to ensure the new head of the U.S. Postal Service couldn’t sleep.
The theme for the noisy demonstration was: “No Joy for DeJoy.”
Protesters organized through the group Shutdown DC accused DeJoy, a prolific GOP donor and President Trump ally, of trying to sabotage the postal service and undermine the 2020 election that will rely heavily on mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They turned out in his well-heeled D.C. neighborhood with fake ballots and stuffed them into his condo gates. They denounced recent cutbacks at USPS and called for DeJoy to resign.
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Spokespeople for the USPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether DeJoy was home or his response to the protest.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Saturday echoed the concerns of activists and accused the Trump administration of trying to “sabotage” the election.
“The Postal Service is central to our democracy — with a treasured legacy that stretches from our founding, and with an importance enshrined in the Constitution,” Pelosi said Saturday in a letter to Democratic colleagues. “Yet before our eyes, President Trump is openly working to destroy the Post Office and sabotage its ability to deliver absentee ballots in time to be counted.”
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Pelosi and Democrats have for months been calling for more money to the revenue-challenged USPS, arguing funding is especially needed now to ensure the staffing and infrastructure is in place to handle ballots for the election. Meanwhile, Trump told Fox Business this week he disagreed with the Democrats’ demands for USPS funding because it would equip the Post Office to handle universal mail-in voting — which Trump opposes.
Democrats want $25 billion for the ailing USPS, as well as an additional $3.5 billion in election resources.
Trump later softened his tone on Friday and said he’d sign legislation that included the USPS funds if Democrats made concessions on other priorities the White House wants in the next round of coronavirus relief funds.
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Saturday’s morning demonstrations are a response to DeJoy’s cost-cutting measures to save the Postal Service from insolvency. The moves have already delayed some mail by as much as a week. A recent decision to shut down 10 percent of the Postal Service’s sorting machines could spell even longer delays. And panic set off this week when blue mailboxes were being collected and removed in Western states — a practice the USPS said it will stop until after the election.
In late July, Thomas Marshall, general counsel and executive vice president of the Postal Service, sent letters warning 46 states and the District of Columbia that USPS can not guarantee all ballots cast by mail will arrive in time to be counted in the November election, The Washington Post reported.
The report sends a warning to the tens of millions of voters eligible to vote by mail: Even if voters meet every deadline and follow their state’s election procedures, their vote may not be counted.
Amid the sudden shift to mail-in voting triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, some states anticipate 10 times the typical volume of election mail. Six states and Washington received warnings that ballots could be delayed for a subset of voters. The other 40 states, including battleground states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida, were warned their current deadlines for requesting and returning ballots were “incongruous” with mail service and voters who send ballots close to the deadline could be disqualified.
“The Postal Service is asking election officials and voters to realistically consider how the mail works,” Martha Johnson, a spokeswoman for the USPS, said in a statement.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.