Detroit mail delivery slowest in nation, USPS data shows

Mail-in voting already underway in Michigan for presidential election; officials concerned

FILE - In this July 31, 2020, file photo, letter carriers load mail trucks for deliveries at a U.S. Postal Service facility in McLean, Va. The success of the 2020 presidential election could come down to a most unlikely government agency: the U.S. Postal Service. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (J. Scott Applewhite, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – The United States Postal Service (USPS) released new data that ranks Detroit’s postal delivery in last place, raising concerns about the effect that delivery delays could have on the presidential election just 10 days away.

The data was released due to a federal court order and was part of a new report on USPS performance released by Sen. Gary Peters, who has been investigating USPS delivery delays since July. Peters serves as the ranking member on the Senate Oversight Committee for the USPS.

According to the data, mail delivery in the Detroit region was about 15% slower than the national average during the first week of October, ranking the city at 67 out of 67 USPS regions. Mail delivery throughout the rest of Michigan was 0.5% slower than the national average.

The national average mail delivery time has also dropped from 91% of on-time delivery to 86%. Officials said the agency’s goal is to deliver 95% of first class mail on time.

Fears over how delays in the mail service could effect the General Election in November have been a central focus for Peters, specifically after it was revealed that newly-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy made policy changes to USPS mail sorting and delivery operations back in July. At the time data showed a significant slow down nationwide -- including in Michigan, whose Pontiac sorting facility is one of the largest in the country. DeJoy has since rescinded several of those changes and has repeatedly attempted to reassure Americans that their completed absentee ballots will arrive on time.

“While the postal service has made some improvements since congressional oversight and federal litigation against Postmaster General DeJoy’s actions began, on-time delivery levels remain unacceptably low,” Peters wrote in his report.

According to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, two million people have already voted by mail in Michigan for the 2020 presidential election. State officials are expecting this year’s election to break the state’s voting record of five million, which was set in 2008. Officials predict about two-thirds of those more than five million votes could come from absentee voters.

The recent mail delivery data has also raised alarms after a federal court of appeals overturned a ruling meant to combat mail delivery delays in Michigan. The ruling would have allowed Michigan county clerks to accept absentee ballots that arrive within 14 days of the election, so long as they are postmarked before Election Day. Michigan law requires all votes to be received by local clerks' offices by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

The court ruling and the new data have pushed state officials, including Benson, to urge voters to drop off their completed absent voter ballots in person, or to fill out their absentee ballots in person at their clerk’s office to ensure their vote gets counted.

“We want to ensure that every valid vote counts and is received on time,” Benson told reporters earlier this week.

Michigan voters can return their completed absentee ballots in person anytime at their local clerk’s office, or using a ballot drop box location associated with their clerk’s office.

Click here to access location and contact information for your local clerk’s office. If you are unsure if your region has a drop box location available to you, contact your local clerk’s office directly.

Click here for a complete guide on absentee voting in Michigan for the 2020 presidential election.

Be prepared: What to know before voting in General Election in Michigan on Nov. 3, 2020

About the Author:

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.