Sen. Smith pushes Postmaster General for answers after Minneapolis community's mail woes before primary

Just months before the general election and only days before Minnesota’s first primary, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith is pushing the U.S. Postmaster General to answer questions about problems with the mail.

Mail delays are being reported across the country as the post office cuts costs. In Minneapolis, one public housing complex missed getting mail for a week.

“People had been complaining like over a week ago,” said Marcus Ellis, a resident of Charles Horn Towers in Minneapolis, just south of Lake Street. “Where’s the mail? Where’s the mail?”

Residents there say no mail came in or out for a week or longer and finally showed up Friday.

“So they gave us the mail for six days,” said Ellis. “Then the next day, no mail. I’m like, what’s going on?”

Ellis and his wife Tanisha Gordon say what never showed up were their mail-in ballots they requested.

“Yeah, that messes us up,” said Ellis. “We haven’t gotten our ballots back. We already signed up to vote and everything and we’re still waiting.”

The issue, the Post Office says, is COVID-19 concerns. No social distancing or other precautions going on, so the carriers didn’t feel safe.

But it comes in the midst of reports across the country of mail delays, as the financially struggling U.S. Postal Service is restructuring by cutting overtime, among other changes.

“But instead of shoring up the postal service, what’s happening is the current Postmaster General appears to be disrupting and undermining service. I think this is outrageous,” said Sen. Smith.

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith sent a letter to the new Postmaster General Saturday wanting answers. She questioned if there was a motive to undermine absentee voting.

“I want to know what this is about,” said Smith. “I question why it is that just less than three months before an extremely important election, the postmaster general has chosen this time to implement cost-cutting moves. Like telling mail carriers they can’t work overtime and telling them they need to shut down the sorting machines early.”