Some mail-sorting machines removed in Kansas, causing concerns ahead of election

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 5:37 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The U.S. Postal Service is responding to claims that it is purposely removing some mail sorting machines ahead of elections. Some lawmakers claim that the machines are being intentionally taken away to slow-down mail delivery as mail-in ballots increase because of coronavirus concerns.

CNN reports it obtained documents that indicated 671 machines used to organize letters or other pieces of mail were slated for a reduction in dozens of cites this year. Postal workers said the agency started removing the machines in June.

Chris Bentley, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 297, which covers Kansas and part of Missouri, told CNN that one machine was removed from Wichita, two from Springfield, Missouri, and four out of Kansas City, Missouri.

Eyewitness News reached out to the postal service to find out more about the machines which were removed. We received the following statement:

The Postal Service routinely moves equipment around its network as necessary to match changing mail and package volumes. Package volume is up, but mail volume continues to decline. Adapting our processing infrastructure to the current volumes will ensure more efficient, cost-effective operations and better service for our customers.

Additionally, we are retiring older, out of date equipment so that we can expand our newer sorting equipment that can handle as many as 30,000 letters an hour. This will increase our capacity and our efficiency to handle increased package volume as well any current letter and flat volume. This is a multi-year effort that prepares us for the future.

The Washington Post reports that the Postal Service has also warned 46 states and the District of Columbia that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted. As of Friday, Kansas was not on the list.

A postal service official told the Missouri Secretary of State that voters should be encouraged to mail in their ballots no later than Oct. 27 in order to make sure they arrive by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

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