Comment Of The Day: “Sunday Ethics Insomnia, 11/29/2020: No Wonder I Can’t Sleep!” (Item #2)

Item #2 in this morning’s potpourri was…

2. “Hello, Newman…” According to the Postal Service’s own records, more than 150,000 mail-in ballots were not delivered in time for them to be counted on election day. This is, of course, as I and anyone else who was paying attention expected and predicted, because the USPS is undependable I am surprised that the number was that low.

The US Postal Service is a glaring mass of unethical bureaucracy—incompetent, archaic, irresponsible. Made mostly superfluous by email and private delivery services, it continues to waste taxpayer money while not even doing a good job at what’s left of its original function. The USPS, like lesser boondoggles like NPR and PBS, are kept alive by official laziness and cowardice, plus an unwillingness to solve a problem when that problem has vocal allies. Putting the integrity of a national election in the hands of such an organization was so illogical that it naturally created, and creates, the belief by many that it was a deliberate attempt to create chaos resulting in enough smoke and fog to cover up deliberate mischief.

There, I’m glad that’s off my chest.

Steve Witherspoon’s Comment of the Day begins with the quote above. Here it is, sparked by Item #2 of the post, Sunday Ethics Insomnia, 11/29/2020: No Wonder I Can’t Sleep!:

I think the operative word in that is “in time” and based on personal experience I completely agree that the 150,000 number is likely false.

As reported in the Business Insider

“Kim Frum, a USPS representative, told Business Insider in a statement, “The Postal Service is required by law to deliver all mail that is deposited in our system. We cannot control when voters choose to mail their completed ballots, but we implemented extraordinary measures to ensure ballots were, and continue to be, delivered to the boards of elections as quickly as possible. More than 97% of the ballots in question were delivered on-time pursuant to our service standards.”

“The post office’s target for on-time ballot deliveries is 97%, but in Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia the on-time rate was just 84.6%.”

Let’s extrapolate that 97% expected delivery rate to this presidential election where 154,022,830 people voted and there was only 6,185,406 votes separating the two candidates.

If the entire nation had gone to mail-in ballots for the 2020 election and the mail in rate continued at 97%, that would mean that the ballots of 4,620,685 people would not have been delivered on time.

Now let’s insert reality into the equation and use the actual delivery rate of Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia which was 84.6%. Tthat would mean that the ballots of 23,719,516 people would not be delivered on time. Yes that’s over twenty-three million ballots that would have been uncounted, because of the United States Postal Service is incompetent.

I raised the problems I’ve been seeing with the United States Postal Service (USPS) for the last 10+ years when the subject of mail-in voting became irrationally popular with Democrats. Yet the Democrats did not, and still do not, see a problem with the USPS delivery rates or any other problems that arise with switching to mail-in voting at the 11th hour.

Something else I’ve noticed: I think it is interesting how the political left reacts. They call something as simple and innocuous as long lines at polling stations and requiring voter ID voter suppression, neither of which is actually voter suppression, but they don’t call the USPS not delivering mail-in ballots voter suppression. The political left is bastardizing everything, calling almost anything voter suppression and racist voter suppression especially initiatives by Republicans to ensure the integrity of elections. Why aren’t they bastardizing what the USPS did as voter suppression and racist voter suppression, when the USPS acknowledges that they didn’t deliver 150,000 ballots on time?

10 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Sunday Ethics Insomnia, 11/29/2020: No Wonder I Can’t Sleep!” (Item #2)

  1. Why? Because to a statist, government is never the problem, government is the solution.

    Just watch all the hand wringing they occurs around privatisation of social security. It doesn’t matter that the private markets outperform the government program.

    • WallPhone wrote, “Why? Because to a statist, government is never the problem, government is the solution.”

      I’m not too sure that’s got anything to do with it or if it does it’s way down at the bottom of the list of reasons. If you’ll find that at the top of the list is the fact that using main-in ballots via the USPS was the idea of the political left’s hive mind and as such it is beyond reproach for their hive mind. Anyone in the political left that steps outside the hive mind and criticizes anything about the mail-in ballots idea will immediately be labeled a lunatic right wing conspiracy nut, worthy of public humiliation and will likely be canceled.

  2. “On time” means within 3 business days for First Class mail. That vast majority of voters-by-mail sent it in weeks before the election date, so if 3% of the vast majority of ballots were delivered a few days late, it is irrelevant.

    The 150,000 is the 3% of ballots mailed within a week of the election that arrived too late. Voting by mail requires a minimum amount of life competence. Those who waited until the last minute contributes bare part of the responsibility if their ballot wasn’t counted.

    • Rich in CT wrote, “Those who waited until the last minute contributes bare part of the responsibility if their ballot wasn’t counted.”

      I completely agree.

      On the other hand, I can tell you for a fact that mailing things early does not solve the problem.

      I’ve mailed our association dues to the address that’s six doors down the street and on average it arrives on-time about half the time. Because of the mail problems, I always mailed these dues out on or before the 15th of the month prior to when it’s due, it’s due on the 1st. It regularly either didn’t arrive on time, got delivered to the wrong address, or never showed up – lost in the mail – I’ve had to cancel three checks over four years because the mail was lost completely. These are not random occurrences; it’s gotten so bad that I stopped mailing and now direct deposit as many things as I can. Also, I was the treasurer for our association for three years and I’ve received mail that’s postmarked over a month old but most of the mail now arrives without any postmark at all.

      Here’s the post office’s idea of efficiency and customer service; if I mail something in the early morning from my house and the recipient is the house next door, it might get picked up by the postal carrier the same day if by chance I happen to have mail otherwise it doesn’t always get picked up, after it’s picked up it does not get sorted here in town it goes straight into the pile of mail that goes 95 miles away to Milwaukee, WI to be sorted (this is a mail sucking black hole), they sort the mail and distribute it to the appropriate trucks, our truck drives back to our small town, then it gets sorted by the local staff as to which delivery vehicle it goes on, then someone arranges the mail based on the delivery route so the driver can mindlessly grab the next pile and put it in the next mailbox, then the driver heads out to deliver the mail mindlessly grabbing the next pile and stuffing it in the mailbox. Sometimes I get some of some neighbors mail, one time I got ALL of my neighbors mail and none of my own, that day ALL of my mail went about a half mile away in an entirely different neighborhood with a street name that wasn’t even similar, my street is Alpine it went to Bergamont and the address number wasn’t the same either. 

      The place I work at is in the same small town and we have constant problems with the mail there too, we resorted to getting a P.O. Box to help fix the problem but that didn’t help, now we use both the P.O. Box and front door delivery and that hasn’t helped either. My daughter lives on the other side of town two blocks from the post office and she has lots of problems too. My family and close friends are in Virginia, Indiana, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Washington, California, Wyoming, Utah and North Carolina and they are all having similar problems. This is not isolated to a few carriers, it’s a systemic problem inside the USPS. The system is no longer set up to help alleviate failure, now it seems to have failure built into the system and when you talk face-to-face with postal workers all I get back are excuses and rationalizations.

      Here is the USPS First Class mailing time frame from my area…

      I mailed Jack the check from the recent Ethics Alarms fundraising on Friday October 16th, I handed it directly to the mail personnel at the counter of our post office so I could completely bypass the carrier. The mail was sent first class and it didn’t arrive at Jack’s home in Alexandria Virginia until Saturday October 24th. That’s a delivery time of eight days, seven if you exclude Sunday; this doesn’t fall within their First Class 3 day time frame for my area to Alexandria Virginia.

      Our post office is so bad and my regular complaints about the service to the local postmaster (who has changed three or four times over the last 5-10 years) have apparently been completely ignored that I have recently resorted to sending multiple letters to the United States Postmaster in Washington DC.

      At one point last year the local postmaster asked me to email her when something went wrong with mail delivery so I did. Her logic was that she can’t fix what she doesn’t know is a problem. Here is the first message I sent her which was a few days after her request…

      Again we have received mail that belongs at a different address.

      As you asked, I’ll stick it in the mail box with the flag up.
      Steve Witherspoon

      I got a reply

      Thank you Steve, I appreciate the update.

      I will address the carrier.


      Here’s another one I sent…

      Again we have received mail that belongs at a different address.

      As you asked, I’ll stick it in the mail box with the flag up.
      Steve Witherspoon

      I got a reply back…

      Thank you for notifying me. I do apologize for the mistake and I will alert the carrier to the mistake.

      Please place the mail in the box with the flag up so the carrier can make the correction.

      In the future do not write all over someone else’s mail.

      Thank you.

      I replied…

      “In the future do not write all over someone else’s mail.”

      I got roughly this same message on a note left by the carrier in the mailbox.

      I completely disagree with this. What I’m writing on the mail is not blocking anything that the USPS needs to properly deliver the mail. The carrier should be pulling it out of our box, reading the message, and then delivering it to the correct address.

      This has happened so often that just throwing it back in the mailbox doesn’t effectively fix the problem. Remember; I’ve lived here since 1984 and until about 10 years ago I could count the number of times on one hand that the mail had been misdelivered, sure mistakes happen but something more has changed. As you know, I also work here in town at ************** (P.O. Box **) and we have also noticed lots of problems with getting others mail, others getting our mail, and not properly getting package notifications and our packages sit on the floor of the USPS until we happen to notice that something hasn’t been delivered, then we track it and find out it’s been at the post office for days. Again, something has changed in the service that the USPS is providing our community.

      Back to the requests that I not write on the mail that it was delivered to the wrong address; that’s just not going to happen. The person that is supposed to receive the mail needs to know that their mail is being delivered to the wrong address and since you don’t want me hand delivering the mail to it’s proper recipient this is the only way to notify them that an error has been made.

      Here are the problems as I see it.

      Problem 1: Mail is being delivered to the wrong address.
      Problem 2: You don’t want me to hand deliver the mail to the proper recipient.
      Problem 3: You don’t want me to write on the mail that it was delivered to the wrong address.
      Problem 4: When the carriers see the mailbox flag up, they reach inside, pull out what’s in there and put it in the outgoing mail box in their vehicle, they do not pay any attention to what they’re putting out and putting in the outgoing mail box and now it’s back in the same system that already failed it once. I know this for a fact because a previous Postmaster told me that’s how they are trained; plus, once I actually received the exact same piece of mail for one of my neighbors twice and I wrote a note on it the first time that read “Wrong Address”, I received that exact piece of mail back a full week later.

      It seems to me that your goal is to hide from the original mail recipient the fact that their mail was misdelivered, I will be involved in hiding the incompetence of the USPS.

      Here is the solution that solves all the problems; instruct your carriers to stop delivering the mail to the wrong addresses and I’ll stop embarrassing an incompetent USPS with notes I write on the mail.

      Problem solved.

      I have still been regularly writing notes on misdelivered mail that read “Delivered to the wrong address again!” and the date.

      Again; this is not isolated to a few carriers, it’s a systemic problem inside the USPS. The system is no longer set up and the personnel are not trained to help alleviate failure, now it seems to have failure built into the system (thus a systemic problem) and when you talk face-to-face with postal workers all you get back are excuses and rationalizations.

      If someone tells me that the USPS is an efficient run organization that accurately delivers the mail at or above a 97% rate of efficiency in 3 days for First Class mail I literally laugh in their face – such blind ignorance deserves that kind of reaction.  Under no circumstances would I ever trust the USPS with a ballot, if I ever have to vote absentee I will hand deliver it to the clerk before the election.

      • Wow, I am surprised and dismayed by your story. I will confess that I have not seen that level of error by our mail carrier. Yes, we do get mail delivered to us that should have gone to a different address. We also get packages from UPS and Fed Ex that are misdelivered.

        One memorable occasion was a shipment of books (UPS or Fed Ex, can’t recall) that was delivered to the local library instead of us — this occurred right before a convention we went to and we had to have the books for the con.

        I sell used books over the internet and send them all over the country. The typical shipment is sent via media mail (i.e. book rate), which tends to be cheaper but take longer. I am not hearing about packages that don’t arrive, and I think I would if they just didn’t get there. Delivery times — I am not so sure about. I was checking earlier this year, since all media mail has tracking information, and the delivery times mostly were reasonable. There were some cases where I could link a delay with a Covid outbreak, but generally they seemed to be getting delivered more or less on time. Haven’t checked lately though.

        In a way, you are making me reconsider the idea of sending stuff 1st class instead of media mail. For lightweight books, it’s cheaper (and supposedly faster) but there is no tracking. Maybe I need to just swallow that extra dollar for some of the shipments.

  3. To me, that 150,000 figure and the term “on time” are just being used to smear the USPS. The article says they were ballots received by USPS by Nov. 3. Is it realistic to expect ballots to be delivered the same day they are received? What’s the real number of delayed ballots attributable to the USPS vs attributable to voters?? And, what does ‘on time’ mean? Obviously something different to BI than to the USPS.
    Business Insider, or was it WAPO, had to stick in there that the Postmaster General was a Trump supporter, yet somehow they failed to note that more than 83% of the postal workers union contributions went to Democrats.
    There are serious issues with mail voting, but USPS delivery times is only a minor issue, and none at all in states which have prepared for it.

    • HJ
      I have to agree with your assessment.

      It became apparent to me that to USPS was going to be a tool to blame any electoral issues. When the Postmaster made changes the left made hay by saying the efforts were to suppress the vote.

      For the life of me I don’t understand why ballots were allowed to be postmarked by 11-3. The election officials SHOULD have asked the Postmaster what is the latest mailing date that would guarantee the ballot arrived by Nov 3 and then made that the last day to mail in the ballot.

      • Pretty simple, really, Chris. The USPS standard time for delivery of 1st class is 2-3 days locally and 4 days nationally. Build in a few days cushion, and you should be all set. Make it easy to remember — mail your ballot at least one week before the election. An allowance could be made for those postmarked by the state’s established deadline for mailing even if they are received late.
        Back in October, The Brookings Institute rated states’ ability to handle mail-in voting, and only about 1 in 5 were very well prepared:
        Fraud prevention is an entirely different issue which Brookings did not address in that review.

  4. I changed to mail-in ballots many years ago when I had emergency surgery and recovery was going to run over Election Day. Since then, I have chosen to continue with mail-in ballots because I get them in plenty of time to go over all the material, review my choices. I don’t mail it in, however; I take it to my local polling place and deposit it in a slot the right size for the ballot in a locked (light)-metal box painted with the address of the Election Office at the City Hall. Because Ethics Alarms was on my mind and there were few people there — it was late afternoon under a peculiar orange sky (smoke from two of the wildfires nearby) that was freaking people out and probably keeping some home, I took the time to check on the process.

    The return address on the box was the same except that its prefix was “Property of” and added “Return Same Day,” with Election date and official closing time written in below. I asked them when they got the box; the person who ran the polling place said he picked it up from the Election Office and was accompanied by someone from City Hall, and delivered the same time the others arrived. He seemed affronted that I’d asked. Two of the paid volunteers who had been in early agreed with him. One of them added, with a grin the boss didn’t appreciate, “We gave it a shake to make sure it was empty.”

    I looked over the box while the official glared at me.

    A tape over the slot said “Keep open during polling hours.” On my way out, I heard the boss saying “… so funny ,,,you and yours{sic} friend here can go right under the trucks and clean up there (they were in a firehouse) and then pack up everything going to into the Election Office and help me up with it.”. “How to we get home then?” one asked. “You take a bus. You’re getting paid, aren’t you?” Nice guy.

    When I got home … around the corner … I downloaded something I hadn’t used before (I’m not sure it was in use before) called Track Your Ballot. Unfortunately, I had forgot to activate it and spent several days imagining my envelope had been snatched by a progressive pilferer with Trump-hunting X-ray eyes until I looked at the directions. Next year I’ll take pictures!

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