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'We are a vital service:' Washington postal workers slam federal cuts impacting deliveries

Kim Wyman says ballots cast by mail for the Nov. 3 General Election will arrive on time to be counted in Washington.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman says ballot delivery and return services should continue without "significant delay or interruption this fall," despite the latest warnings by the U.S. Postal Service.

The postal service is warning states it cannot guarantee that all ballots cast by mail for the Nov. 3 General Election will arrive on time to be counted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mail ballots as a way to vote without risking exposure to coronavirus at the polls. However, overtime, late delivery trips and other expenses have been cut, resulting in a national slowdown of mail.

The postal service is hoping for a $10 billion infusion from Congress to continue operating, but talks between Democrats and Republicans over a broad pandemic relief package that could have included that money broke down. 

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On Thursday, President Donald Trump acknowledged that he’s starving the postal service of that money to make it harder to process an expected surge of mail-in ballots. Trump attempted to re-calibrate his position by saying that he supports more funding for the postal service but refuses to capitulate to other parts of the Democrats' relief package — including funding for cash-strapped states. 

On Monday, just hours after calling the post office "failing" on Twitter, he posted another tweet saying, "SAVE THE POST OFFICE." 

"We're a public service and we deserve money too because we are a vital, basic service. Our customers need us,” said David Yao, a representative for the American Postal Workers Union.

Washington postal workers said they’re caught in the middle of a budget battle that’s lasted months.

Wyman says they are "confident in our partnership with the U.S. Postal Service and its ability to continue delivering the same outstanding service to voters, the Office of the Secretary of State, and Washington’s 39 county election officials."

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“Politicizing these administrative processes is dangerous and undermines public confidence in our elections,” she said. “Washington voters should know that sending ballot material to millions of voters this fall is a routine operation of the U.S. Postal Service. Washington election officials have been working with the U.S. Postal Service for more than 20 years, and we believe we will receive the same level of quality service. 

"Though it is imperative the agency maintain its functionality and efficiency, this volume of work is by no means unusual, and is an operation I am confident the U.S. Postal Service is sufficiently prepared to fulfill.”   

Voters should have their ballots for the Nov. 3 General Election by Oct. 16.

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