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Jumat, 14 Agustus 2020

Watchdog to probe US Postal Service as worries rise about mail ballots - ABC News

The US Postal Service's internal watchdog is investigating cost-cutting that has slowed delivery and alarmed politicians ahead of a presidential election in which up to half of voters could cast ballots by mail, a congressional aide says.

The Postal Service's inspector-general also will examine possible conflicts of interest involving new postmaster-general Louis DeJoy, who has donated $US2.7 million ($3.8 million) to President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, according to Saloni Sharma, a spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who requested the investigation.

Mr DeJoy owns millions of dollars in stock in Postal Service rivals and customers, according to a financial disclosure form filed by his wife.

The inspector-general's office is "conducting a body of work to address concerns raised," spokeswoman Agapi Doulaveris said.

States told of 'significant risk' to vote counts

The investigation comes as the Postal Service is warning states there is "significant risk" voters will not have enough time to complete and return their ballots.

The Postal Service late on Friday released letters it had sent to 46 states and the District of Columbia, after the Washington Post reported earlier on the extent of the warnings.

A US postal worker in a mask outside a truck
Donald Trump opposes additional funding to make mail voting easier.(Reuters: Mike Segar)

The warning highlighted the possibility that a meaningful number of mail votes in the November 3 presidential election might go uncounted if they are returned too late.

"State and local election officials must understand and take into account our operational standards and recommended timelines," Postal Service spokeswoman Martha Johnson said.

Trump opposes extra Postal Service funding

Election officials are bracing for a deluge of mail ballots as many states have made it easier to vote by mail to address concerns about public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican President Donald Trump said on Thursday (local time) that he opposes additional funding to make mail voting easier.

Mr Trump, who is trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in opinion polls, has said without evidence that widespread mail voting could lead to fraud.

A man with a bandana on his face at a polling station
Evidence has shown that mail voting is as secure as any other method.(AP: John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal)

However, public records show he has requested mail ballots for himself and his wife Melania before Florida's Tuesday primary election.

Evidence has shown that mail voting is as secure as any other method.

Mr Biden and other Democrats say Mr Trump is trying to interfere with the election.

Former Democratic president Barack Obama said he was worried Mr Trump was trying to "kneecap" the Postal Service.

Cost-cutting leads to widespread delays

The issue has taken on added urgency in recent weeks, as cost-cutting measures put in place by Mr DeJoy have led to widespread mail delays.

Democratic congressional leaders and committee leaders sent a letter to Mr DeJoy on Friday demanding an explanation for changes he is making at postal facilities.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said on Friday that the changes could violate state laws against election tampering.

She called for a criminal investigation.

The Postal Service has warned some states that allowing voters to request ballots less than a week before the election does not leave enough time to print the ballot, mail it to the voter and have it returned.

Half of the states allow voters to request an absentee ballot within seven days of an election.

The Postal Service recommends that mail ballots should be completed and sent in by that point.

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2020-08-15 00:52:00Z
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