USPS cannot guarantee Michigan’s mail-in votes will arrive in time to be counted

The U.S. Postal Service warns Michigan that mail-in ballots may be delivered too late for the upcoming election in November.

PONTIAC, Mich. – The U.S. Postal Service is warning states coast to coast that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted, even if mailed by state deadlines, raising the possibility that millions of voters could be disenfranchised.

The new development has Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson concerned.

RELATED: Michigan US Sen. Peters launches investigation into Postal Service delays

The warning was in a letter sent to 46 states and Washington, DC. The letter was dated at the end of July, but didn’t come to light until this week. It’s only compounded fears that with more people than ever before voting by mail this year that votes simply won’t be counted.

Related: Mail could be delayed as new postal boss pushes cost-cutting

“It is not reliable and there are lot of variables and uncertainties that are evolving hour-to-hour, day-to-day,” Benson said. “I’m deeply concerned about that.”

The Postal Service sent Benson’s office a letter that said Michigan’s vote-by-mail laws are “incongruous” with USPS standards and that the ballot deadlines create a mismatch with delivery.

“This is not the time for the Postal Service to give up on its responsibility to serve,” Benson said.

Q&A: What’s happening at the US Postal Service, and why?

Benson has been critical of the federal push back to what some have called deliberate delays to suppress voting. The new post master general calling those delays unintended consequences to budget cuts.

On top of delays, the Post Office have been steadily building after new rules about overtime that went into effect and as the USPS has begun removing critical time saving sorting machines. According to new numbers from the Washington Post, inside the USPS Michigan Metroplex in Pontiac -- one of the busiest in the country -- more than 394,000 pieces of mail are going unsorted every hour.

Benson also revealed the Postal Service has started removing official blue mailboxes from states like Maine and Montana after she talked to other secretaries of state.

“If the post office is removing mailboxes on streets across Michigan, that’s of concern to all of us who are concerned about mail delivery and particularly the timing like this, when more citizens are voting by mail than ever before,” Benson said.

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Benson’s office is asking anyone who sees the post office removing mailboxes to report those sightings to her office.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin called Saturday for the House Oversight Committee to hold hearings with senior leadership at the U.S. Postal Service.

“The delays from the post office are currently the number one issue people are raising with me in person, on our office phones, and via mail,” Slotkin said. “USPS leadership should have to publicly explain their recent staffing and operational changes that have led to mail slow-downs, and directly respond to Americans’ urgent questions about getting mailed prescriptions, carrying out normal business, and making sure our absentee votes are counted in November.”

About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.