WASHINGTON — Questions and concerns with the United States Postal Service will take center stage on Capitol Hill Friday. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will testify before the senate where we expect to get more answers after a rollercoaster week for the United States Postal Service.
As concerns grow with election day getting closer, this will be the first opportunity for DeJoy to publicly answer questions about the controversial changes he made to the postal system.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cut the summer recess short calling members back to the Capitol to stop further changes from being made to the postal service. "I don't frankly trust the postmaster general, what he said. And if he's sincere about it, it means the bully has backed off,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to cast doubt on voting by mail, Maryland's State Board of Elections said they have been flooded with ballot requests, months before the November election. According to a Maryland State Board of Elections report released Thursday, 277,144 applications have been received for vote-by-mail ballots.
Two and a half months before the 2020 election, that number surpasses the total number of Marylanders who voted by mail in the 2016 presidential election by more than 50,000. The demand for early applications has occurred even before authorities have begun a mass mailing to send out vote-by-mail applications to every Maryland voter.
The mailing, set to begin on Aug. 24, is expected to produce a crush of applications, according to local elections officials in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
“I'm asking our voters not to procrastinate," Gilberto Zelaya, of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said.“Then our staff can jump ahead of the curve and start processing it."
Even before receiving an application by mail, Maryland voters can request one online or by text using the letters VBM sent to 77788, which Zelaya said is encouraging.
Montgomery County leads the state in early mail-in ballot applications with more than 70,000 thus far. Prince George’s County reports receiving more than 54,000.
Authorities in both counties say the U.S. mail is a secure voting method. However, the counties are expected to deploy as many as 75 secure "drop boxes" combined, where voters concerned about mail can drop off ballots.
In Virginia, Fairfax County reports more than 100,000 requests have been received, according to Brian Worthy, a spokesman for the county.
Worthy said the county expects at least 300,000 Fairfax voters will use the state's absentee voting system.
By mid-October, at least 15 voting centers will be set up in Fairfax county where voters can apply for an absentee ballot in person, receive the ballot, vote on-site, and hand the ballot into authorities for counting.
Weeks of mail delays during the pandemic have led to concerns and protests following a letter from USPS to dozens of states, including Maryland, Virginia and DC indicating it could not guarantee all mail-in ballots would arrive in time for this years election.
This week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that the recent changes would stop until after the election. However, many Democrats want answers and are pushing for billions of dollars in aid for the postal service to fix the problem.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is expected to appear in a virtual hearing at 9 a.m. Friday. He is also scheduled to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday, August 24th.