BISHOP DEMANDS ANSWERS OVER LACK OF USPS BOXES IN AFRICAN AMERICAN NEIGHBORHOODS
COLUMBUS, GA – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Senior Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, released the following statement after sending a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy requesting answers about the concerning maps of U.S. Postal Service Blue Collection Boxes across America:
“In multiple cities across America including Albany, Georgia, there are large vacant areas without Blue Collection Boxes in predominantly African American neighborhoods, according to U.S. Census data. Yesterday, USPS confirmed Blue Collection Boxes were being removed and thankfully reversed the policy. However, we need answers and action from the Postmaster General to correct the racial disparity and protect voting rights in Georgia.
“We have seen an unprecedented amount of change from the U.S. Postal Service in an election year where more Americans than ever will be voting by mail. I have signed onto seven letters and cosponsored H.R. 8015 with many Members who are just as concerned as I am. Election Day is in 80 days. We have no time to waste.”
The full text of the letter is below and online:
August 15, 2020
The Honorable Louis DeJoy
United States Postal Service
475 L’ Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260
Dear Postmaster General DeJoy,
It has come to my attention that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has eliminated Blue Collection Boxes in a number of cities across the nation, and according to the USPS website, may also be inaccurately listing collection box locations in many other cities. It has already been confirmed Blue Collection Boxes were removed in Oregon, Ohio, and possibly several other states. While I understand you have reversed this policy as of yesterday, I am still troubled.
In my home state of Georgia, there are large sections in multiple cities, such as Atlanta and Albany, that show no Blue Collection Boxes according to the USPS website. Unfortunately, we are not an outlier—this appears in many other states. Based on racial demographic maps using U.S. Census data, it appears these vacant areas are often in predominantly African American neighborhoods. This is an extremely troubling finding, considering the historical suppression of African American voters.
I have the following questions that I would like answered:
- When did you begin removing boxes?
- How many did you remove?
- What was the criteria for removing them?
- In 2015, your office stated there were 153,999 Blue Collection Boxes. How many Blue Collection Boxes are there currently?
- Will you be putting the removed boxes back in their original locations?
- Were boxes removed from these predominantly African American neighborhoods recently?
- If not, will you be putting new boxes in these neighborhoods to address the racial disparity ahead of the presidential election occurring in 80 days?
The removal of Blue Collection Boxes and the potentially inaccurate information on the USPS website sows confusion and distrust in the Postal Service and its mission, which is ingrained in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. It is imperative that USPS continues to provide quality mail pick-up and delivery at a low cost for Americans regardless of their address. In many rural areas, USPS is the only mail delivery service available, as rural delivery is not cost-effective for private companies.
Particularly in the time of COVID-19, the Blue Collection Boxes are a safe, socially distanced way for Americans to use the Postal Service, which is funded by their taxes. With Election Day approaching and millions of Americans likely to vote by mail, the safest 24/7 locations to mail in ballots are seemingly vanishing without any sort of warning or explanation. My concern is doubled that this may be suppressing the votes of minorities, who historically have been discriminated against when exercising the right to vote.
My concerns have only increased in light of the President’s unfounded comments about distrusting the Post Office. Most recently, on August 12, 2020, the President stated he declined to approve $25 billion in emergency coronavirus funding for the Postal Service, because “if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”
Given the sensitivity of this matter, I would appreciate a timely response to my concerns.
With warmest personal regards, I remain
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.
Member of Congress
Senior Member of House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
CC: Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney
Chairman Mike Quigley