New Hartford, N.Y. - In what was to be a concerted effort across the country on Saturday to protest recent changes within the U.S. Postal Service, more than 50 people from around the Mohawk Valley showed up outside the New Hartford Post Office to hopefully have their voices heard.
It was just one of hundreds of such planned events across the country on Saturday in response to the recent developments within the U.S. Postal Service, including the removal of more than 600 mail sorting machines across the country, just months before this year's election which is expected to see many millions of mail-in ballots.
The gathering in New Hartford was organized by the local activist organization called Indivisible Mohawk Valley.
Indivisible Mohawk Valley Steering Committee Member Deborah Wilson-Allam was right in the middle of the group.
Wilson-Allam says her reason for helping organize this local event is simple, "The new Postmaster General which was appointed in June, Louis DeJoy, has been removing sorting machines from post offices around the country and what that means is that these post offices are not able to process the amount of mail that they usually would be able to do and we are very concerned that when it comes to all of the mail-in ballots or absentee ballots that are going to be needed in November, they won’t be able to handle the volume."
Wilson-Allam and others are calling on members of Congress to get the U.S. Postal Service to reverse these recent changes immediately to make sure the processing of the expected millions of mail-in ballots can be done, and done on time.
Kim Fonda of Utica was among those who demonstrated in front of the New Hartford Post Office on Saturday.
When asked if she believed all of the protests would actually make a difference in Washington, Fonda replied, "I hope so, I hope so. You know I look at what’s going on and I can’t help but wonder why is this being prioritized now with the pandemic and the voting and so it just doesn’t seem right to me and it seems like it could negatively impact our election process and that's something that every patriot in this country holds dear and so I’m just out to do my part."
Earlier this month, the U.S. Postal Service warned states coast to coast that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted, even if mailed by state deadlines, raising the possibility that millions of voters could ultimately have their vote not counted.
U.S. Post Master general Louis DeJoy testified on Friday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is controlled by Republicans.
DeJoy says the measures that he instituted were cost cutting measures.
When asked during Friday's hearing if he plans to reinstate the mail sorting machines, DeJoy said no. He said his efforts were to make the Postal Service run more efficiently and he says the Postal Service could handle an expected surge in mailed ballots
DeJoy is scheduled to testify on Monday in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is controlled by Democrats.