A spokesman for the United States Postal Service confirmed on Thursday that the agency has removed four blue boxes from Portland, and 27 from Eugene this week, reports The Willamette Week.
The USPS plans to remove a few more boxes from Portland next week, the publication reported.
“The reason we’re doing it is because of declining mail volume,” USPS spokesman Ernie Swanson told WW. “Ever since the pandemic came along, people are mailing less for some reason.”
Earlier in the day, a photo surfaced on social media that showed a person lifting multiple USPS boxes into a truck in Northeast Portland, sparking concern among residents.
Another similar photo taken in Eugene, Oregon today. pic.twitter.com/mFD6jFnzvk
— Steve 🎇 (@Intersection911) August 13, 2020
Swanson claims the USPS is only removing mailboxes where there were already multiple boxes stationed next to each other. USPS has not removed any mailboxes in locations where there was only one, Swanson said.
“In locations where we have more than one box sitting in the same spot side by side, we leave one behind,” Swanson said.
Swanson said the directive came from USPS headquarters about a week ago and that boxes are probably being removed nationwide.
Earlier today, President Trump admitted on Thursday he opposed additional funding for the USPS in order to make it more difficult to deliver mail-in ballots, sparking concern among Americans as the November election approaches.
Trump said on Thursday that congressional negotiations over stimulus aid were held up in part because of Democratic proposals to provide $3.6bn to states to run elections and $25bn in aid to the postal service. The president, who has falsely claimed that widespread mail-in voting will lead to fraud, suggested that without the funding it would be harder to vote by mail.
“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
It was also reported this week that the USPS is removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given.
In many cases, Motherboard reports, these are the same machines that would be tasked with sorting ballots, calling into question promises made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that the USPS has “ample capacity” to handle the predicted surge in mail-in ballots.