UNITED STATES NEWS

US Postal Service plans to downsize a mail hub in Nevada. What does that mean for mail-in ballots?

Mar 4, 2024, 12:26 PM

FILE - A mail carrier loads a mail truck with mail on Friday, March 1, 2024, in Lake Tahoe, Calif. ...

FILE - A mail carrier loads a mail truck with mail on Friday, March 1, 2024, in Lake Tahoe, Calif. A U.S. Postal Service plan to downsize a regional mail hub in Reno and move package and letter processing to Sacramento, California, is raising fears about service delays and mail-in ballot handling from Nevada elected representatives. (AP Photo/Andy Barron, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Andy Barron, File)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A U.S. Postal Service plan to downsize a regional mail hub in Reno and move package and letter processing to Sacramento, California, has members of Nevada’s congressional delegation and the state’s top election administrator worried about service delays and mail-in ballot handling.

The elected officials point to a lack of transparency in what Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has cast as a money-saving move, and say they’re concerned that mail service will be snarled by the hourslong roundtrip drive over the Sierra Nevada.

“There is also the matter of Nevada’s mail ballots being taken to California for processing before being returned to Nevada and their voters,” Nevada Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar said in a protest letter.

Every active registered voter in Nevada is sent a mail ballot. If the change moves forward, Aguilar said it may not be possible for ballots placed in the mail in central and northern Nevada on Election Day to be postmarked the same day.

Processing returned votes out of state “has the potential to disenfranchise thousands of Nevada voters and would unquestionably impact the results of Nevada’s elections,” he wrote.

Aguilar, a Democrat, also cited obstacles including a blizzard that swept into the steep mountain range between Nevada and California over the weekend, closing Interstate 80 for several days. His letter called it “not irregular” at any time of the year for the freeway, the main route between Reno and Sacramento, to be closed due to weather or vehicle crashes.

“The USPS standard for local Reno mail received and delivered is two days, a standard which USPS has already struggled to meet,” Nevada Democratic U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei said in a Wednesday letter to DeJoy. “Sending Nevadans’ mail to California does not seem like a promising way of improving this deficiency.”

The letter accused the Postal Service of failing to show how it shaped its plan or “provide any analysis on local impacts of moving mail processing” from Reno to Sacramento. It sought DeJoy’s response by March 15.

Rosen on Friday called reliable on-time mail delivery of medication and Social Security checks crucial for seniors, military veterans and families.

Amodei represents northern Nevada, where mail from a vast eight-county area and the state capital, Carson City, is currently processed and distributed at a Reno facility that would be downsized to a local processing center under a 10-year, $40 billion Postal Service modernization plan to establish 60 regional processing and distribution centers across the U.S.

DeJoy was appointed to his position in May 2020 under Republican President Donald Trump. He faced criticism about sweeping Postal Service policy changes ahead of the November 2020 election and has defended his agency’s ability to deliver mail-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Postal Service spokesman Rod Spurgeon confirmed by email Friday that the agency received the Nevada Congress members’ letter and said a response would go directly to them.

“The business case supports transferring some mail processing operations” to Sacramento, the Postal Service said in a Feb. 6 document outlining the Reno office downsizing, which it projected could save up to $4.2 million per year. A period for public comment ended Wednesday. Spurgeon added Friday that findings were preliminary and declined to specify other states where similar plans are being made.

In Wyoming, complaints have arisen among critics who say shifting Postal Service processing from Cheyenne to Denver and from Casper to Billings, Montana, would leave Wyoming without a mail processing facility.

Spurgeon said letters and packages currently processed in Reno would go to Sacramento and be returned to Reno for delivery within the standard two days. The current facility in Reno serves a sprawling Postal Service area home to 22% of Nevada’s population. Rural areas vote solidly Republican, while Washoe County and Reno narrowly favored Democratic President Joe Biden in 2020. Other regional postal hubs in Nevada are in Elko and the Las Vegas area.

Washoe County commissioners voted last week to oppose the Post Office downsizing, the Reno Gazette Journal reported, and the interim head of the county elections department told the newspaper she would discourage voters from mailing ballots if the plan becomes final.

“I wouldn’t even put it in the mail,” interim county Registrar Cari-Ann Burgess said. “I would drop it off at one of our vote centers.”

____

This story has been updated to correct that Louis DeJoy was appointed Postmaster General in May 2020 under Republican President Donald Trump, not by Trump.

United States News

Associated Press

Stock market today: World shares are mixed after a tech-led retreat on Wall Street

World shares were mixed on Thursday after sinking technology stocks sent Wall Street lower again. Germany’s DAX slipped 0.1% to 17,756.81 while the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.4% to 8,010.04. In London, the FTSE 100 edged 0.1% higher, to 7,857.46. The future for the S&P 500 was up 0.3% while that for the Dow […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Takeaways from this week’s reports on the deadly 2023 Maui fire that destroyed Lahaina

HONOLULU (AP) — More than half a year after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century burned through a historic Maui town, officials are still trying to determine exactly what went wrong and how to prevent similar catastrophes in the future. But two reports released this week are filling in some of the […]

7 hours ago

A anti-abortion supporter stands outside the House chamber, Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at the Capit...

Associated Press

Democrats clear path to bring proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban to a vote

Democrats in the Arizona Senate cleared a path to bring a proposed repeal of the state’s near-total ban on abortions to a vote.

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Oklahoma man arrested after authorities say he threw a pipe bomb at Satanic Temple in Massachusetts

BOSTON (AP) — An Oklahoma man was arrested Wednesday after authorities accused him of throwing a pipe bomb at the Massachusetts headquarters of a group called The Satanic Temple. The Salem-based group says on its website that it campaigns for secularism and individual liberties, and that its members don’t actually worship Satan. Sean Patrick Palmer, […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Ellen Ash Peters, first female chief justice of Connecticut Supreme Court, dies at 94

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Ellen Ash Peters, who was the first woman to serve as Connecticut’s chief justice and wrote the majority opinion in the state Supreme Court’s landmark school desegregation ruling in 1996, has died. She was 94. Peters, who also was the first female faculty member at Yale Law School, passed away Tuesday, […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

Vermont farms are still recovering from flooding as they enter the growing season

BERLIN, Vt. (AP) — Hundreds of Vermont farms are still recovering from last July’s catastrophic flooding and other extreme weather as they head into this year’s growing season. Dog River Farm, in Berlin, Vermont, lost nearly all its produce crops in the July flooding. The farm removed truckloads of river silt and sand from the […]

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

US Postal Service plans to downsize a mail hub in Nevada. What does that mean for mail-in ballots?