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September 26, 2020 Live Blogging the USPS Jones v USPS

Summary:
Prof. Steve Hutkins at Save the Post Office New in Jones v USPS: Late yesterday, Judge Marrero issued his order on the case. It’s essentially the same as the proposed order, but the parties are still trying to work out the overtime issue. The Postal Service has provided much more information to the Court concerning its policies and practices in handling Election Mail over the coming weeks: DOJ letter to Judge Marrero, Sept. 25, 2020: This letter describes the contents of the material being submitted to the Court and provides a good overview of how the Postal Service will handle Election Mail. Calculations on Cost for Delivering Election Mail as First Class: Judge Marrero asked the Postal Service to provide an estimate for how much it will cost to treat

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Prof. Steve Hutkins at Save the Post Office

New in Jones v USPS: Late yesterday, Judge Marrero issued his order on the case. It’s essentially the same as the proposed order, but the parties are still trying to work out the overtime issue.

The Postal Service has provided much more information to the Court concerning its policies and practices in handling Election Mail over the coming weeks:

DOJ letter to Judge Marrero, Sept. 25, 2020: This letter describes the contents of the material being submitted to the Court and provides a good overview of how the Postal Service will handle Election Mail.

Calculations on Cost for Delivering Election Mail as First Class: Judge Marrero asked the Postal Service to provide an estimate for how much it will cost to treat Election Mail sent at Marketing Mail rates as First Class (one of the points on which the parties have agreed). The Postal Service says that between Oct. 15 and Nov. 3, it expects to handle about 170 million pieces of such mail (a mix of letters and flats). Figured as “revenue foregone” (i.e., based on the rates mailers pay), it will cost the Postal Service $69.4 million. Figured in terms of the Postal Service’s own direct (attributable) costs, it will cost the Postal Service $39.1 million.

Clarifying Operational Instructions (Sept. 21, 2020) Memo from Executive Vice Presidents David E Williams and Kristin A. Seaver to Officers, PCES, and Band Managers. This memo clarifies the Postal Service’s practices concerning overtime, hiring, retail hours, collection boxes, late and extra trips, mail processing, and Election Mail as they currently stand.

Additional Resources for Election Mail Beginning October 1 (Sept. 25, 2020) Memo from David E. Williams and Kristin A. Seaver to Officers, PCES, and Band Managers. This memo describes the additional resources being made available with regard to mail processing, transportation, delivery/collections, and overtime. Between Oct. 26 and Nov. 3, the Postal Service will take “extraordinary measures” to ensure the timely delivery of Election Mail, including expedited handling, extra deliveries, and special pickups.

Service performance reports: The plaintiffs requested more detailed and updated service performance reports, and the Postal Service provided a lot of new data. This is now the most comprehensive picture of on-time performance from the beginning of 2020 through the week of Sept. 12. Here’s what’s included:

  • Press release on Service Performance Week of Sept. 12, 2020
  • First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail, and Periodicals, from the beginning of the year through week of Sept. 12, at National, Area, and District Level (pdf only)
  • National, First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail, and Periodicals, from the beginning of the year through week of Sept. 12 (converted by STPO to Excel)
  • By Area, First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail, and Periodicals, from the beginning of the year through week of Sept. 12 (converted by STPO to Excel)
  • By District, First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail, and Periodicals, from the beginning of the year through week of Sept. 12 (converted by STPO to Excel)
  • Service Performance Variance Reports (as PDF; converted to Excel): These reports show the percentage of the mail that was delivered on time, one-day later, two-days later, and three-days later.

The variance reports show why it’s important to mail your ballot more than a couple of days before the deadline. For example, for the week of Sept. 12, the on-time score for 2-day mail (the usual timeframe for a ballot being returned to an election center from within the region) was only 88.81 percent. With one additional day, the score was 96.44 percent; with two additional days, it was 98.37 percent; and with three extra days, it was up to 99 percent. So to be on the safe side, mail your ballot a week before the deadline. With all the commitments the Postal Service has made concerning Election Mail — due in no small part to the Jones case — it should arrive safe and sound in time to be counted.

Shortly after all these developments in Jones v USPS, the Washington Post reported that “the U.S. Postal Service is nearing a settlement with 19 states and D.C. to govern how the agency handles mailed ballots and to suspend key pieces of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s controversial cost-cutting agenda, which has been linked to mail backlogs across the country, according to three people with knowledge of the negotiations.” The settlement would resolve WashingtonNew York, and Pennsylvania. The settlement would draw on the orders of Judge Marrero in Jones and Judge Bastian in Washington, as well as others that may be handed down by Judge McHugh in Pennsylvania.  See the Washington Post for more.

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