McCulloch Says Postal Service Restructuring Could Affect Elections

By Beacon Staff

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch is the latest Montana official to criticize the U.S. Postal Service, and in particular Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, for major reorganization proposals within the agency.

McCulloch sent a letter dated Oct. 17 to Donahoe blasting the Postal Service’s announcement that it may close or relocate several mail processing facilities in Montana. She called the proposal “absurdity.” McCulloch told Donahoe that such closures “could prove damaging to the state’s elections process” because an “increasing number of our citizens are choosing to vote by mail.”

“In the 2010 Federal General Election, 47% of the votes were cast by absentee mail ballot,” McCulloch wrote. “That’s a large increase from just ten years ago, when only 15% of the votes were cast by absentee ballot.”

News of the possible closures of processing facilities initially came in September, on the heels of the Postal Service’s announcement that it is reviewing 85 rural post offices in the state for closure. Later in the month, 69 of those post offices, including four in Northwest Montana, received notices of proposed closure. Sen. Jon Tester, however, is pushing legislation through Congress to keep a number of them open.

“In Montana and across rural America, post offices define communities and serve as lifelines to the rest of the world,” Tester said in a release. “If post offices are shut down, entire communities will lose their identities and many of them will disappear. We must put sideboards on the Postal Service to prevent closures from disproportionately hurting rural and frontier America.”

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