SALT LAKE CITY — Embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy assured a Senate committee Friday that mail-in ballots sent at least seven days before the November election will be received and counted.
DeJoy said he’s “extremely, highly confident” that the U.S. Postal Service will deliver ballots to counting clerks on time.
“We will scour every plant each night leading up to Election Day,” he said in response to questioning from Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, during a virtual Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.
The meeting was DeJoy’s first opportunity to address accusations that the Trump administration is deliberately hindering postal operations to slow mail delivery. DeJoy, a businessman and Republican Party fundraiser, has been on the job since mid-June.
“As we head into the election season, I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time,” DeJoy said.
Romney told the Postal Service chief he could imagine how frustrating it is to be accused of having political motives in his management responsibility.
At the same time, he said, DeJoy should understand that there have been “pretty good reasons” for people to think that he or his colleagues are purposely trying to suppress voting or prevent ballots from being counted.
“Any surprise at such concerns has to be tempered by the fact that the president has made repeated claims that mail-in voting will be fraudulent, that he doesn’t want to give more money to the post office because without more money you can’t have universal mail-in voting,” the senator said.
Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, also noted that much has been made of DeJoy contributing to President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
“I would note that you also generously contributed to my campaign, so some people would say you contributed to both sides,” Romney said, in an acknowledgement of his differences with the president.
Romney doesn’t share Trump’s claim that voting by mail would increase voter fraud, recently calling it a “political calculation.”
He said he has seen no evidence of voter fraud and worries more about potential hacking of electronic voting systems. Romney said he believes voting by mail is more secure than electronic voting and that the federal government should give money to states that need to improve their mail-in process.
Postal workers in Utah have made voting by mail reliable, and the successful system in Utah is a model for the nation, Romney said at the Senate hearing.
Romney wants to see a plan to make the post office more economical but at the same time maintains a level of services that are essential for democracy and a functioning economy.
“That’s a real challenge, but as someone who’s done what you’ve done throughout your career, I expect you to be up to the task,” he told DeJoy.
Romney said he’s also anxious for Congress to recognize that its demand for certain levels of service might call for legislation.
On Saturday, NAACP Salt Lake branch, the Alliance for a Better Utah, the Salt Lake Equal Rights Movement and others will take part in a nationwide rally to “save” the Postal Service.
The groups want Congress to pass the Delivering for America Act, a Democratic proposal to prohibit the post office from changing current operations or levels of service until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. They’re also urging Utah voters to return their ballots no later than Oct. 20, two weeks before the Nov. 3 election.