‘I am not comfortable:’ Rep. Al Green on mail-in ballots and USPS delay issues

HOUSTON – For weeks now, KPRC 2 has been following problems with mail delays in Houston.

The United States Postal Service said this is because they are working to modernize their mailing system.

On KPRC 2+ U.S. Representative Al Green (D-Houston) talked with KPRC 2′s Amy Davis about how the hold-up could impact voters.

Click the video box above to see the entire interview. There is a portion of the interview below.

Amy: “Are you worried that USPS delays could impact mail-in ballots?” asked Amy Davis.

Green: “Unfortunately, that’s been too long. This started in early December, mid-December, and we’ve had a couple of meetings with Postal Service persons here locally. We met with the inspector general as it relates to the postal service. We met with persons who worked with the trade association related to the postal service. So we’ve done quite a few things, but I’m still not comfortable with where we are. To be very candid with you. My hope is that things will go exceedingly well. But, because I’m a person who takes seriously my vote, I would encourage people to vote early,” said Rep. Green.

How will delays impact mail-in ballots?

Amy: “Did anyone from any of those agencies with the Postal Service sort of, explain how they might make sure that these delays will not impact mail-in ballots? I mean, why wouldn’t they just be lumped in and be just as late as the rest of our mail?”

Green: “Well, these are good questions. And one of the things that I have encouraged is transparency. And I think that there’s a necessity for the Postal Service to answer these questions, you see. I’m not a spokesperson for USPS,” said Rep. Green.

“You’re asking questions that they have, the insight and the intellect that provided intelligence on these issues that I don’t have. I can only say to you that I have raised them and they have given assurances, but I am not comfortable given the number of complaints that we had. We had hundreds of complaints from the congressional office. We’ve had to initiate congressional, investigations from the office point of view for many persons, more than 50 persons. So I’m not comfortable knowing what I’ve gone through. A congressional office should not become a complaint department for the Postal Service. Yeah, one would think that the Postal Service would have a sufficient complaint department with a customer service representative who can answer the questions of persons who are aware that their mail has been tracked to a certain facility. Right. They haven’t done that.”

Can you track your vote in the mail?

Amy: “A senior citizen emailed me. He’s wheelchair-bound. He hadn’t received his ballot by mail. And that’s how he and his elderly wife vote every year. And he was like, well if I don’t get it in time, how is it going to make it back on time? Is there a way for people to track their vote once they mail it in to make sure it made it to the voting office? Or, I mean, is there any real way to do that?”

Green: This would be a great question for the Postal Service to answer. So I’ll give you a layperson’s answer. Who is not affiliated with the Postal Service or who is doing as best as he can, to do what people expect and that is give answers. Here’s the answer that I would give. Send your ballot, if you can, so that it can be tracked. I’m not sure that just placing it in the mail means that it will be. I would check with the post office.”

Rep. Green says to consider other options for voting considering the mail delays.

“I have not voted by mail. I vote in person, but I would check with the post office to find out before placing it in the hands of the postal service. And if you have to spend some additional money to track, it will, ask you to do that. That way, you’ll know exactly where it is at a given moment in time. Now, this tracking service is supposed to work. And I’ve seen it work fairly well in a good many cases,” said Rep. Green.

Amy: “My question is, I’m an elderly person. I’m mailing my ballot. And then after Election Day, I want to make sure that my vote counted in the primaries. There is a way to check and make sure that they got my vote right. I just need to find out. I mean, not that it would make that much of a difference after the election. I mean, what are you going to do about it? But I mean, it’s just kind of crazy times.

Green: “These are difficult times. And this is one of the reasons why we, Congresswoman Garcia and I, to be very candid, have been engaged in this process because she and I had a similar experience, some time ago, about a year or so ago. And we went through this as it relates to the North facility. So we want to make sure that every person’s ballot is counted. This is so important. So, this, Postal service process is something that should be exposed to the public. I think that the Postal Service should have a town meeting. People come forth and ask all of these questions that they have. I think that they should hold a press conference and let all the members of the press come forward and ask all of their questions and give answers, but they don’t they cannot be a secret society. They closed society such that they only respond when they have good news, which is what one person told me who’s associated with the Postal Service. Yeah, it’s associated with communications. All right. Only respond when we have good news. Yeah, well that’s unacceptable. It’s totally unacceptable.

The USPS sent us this release

The USPS sent KPRC 2 information about the modernization work going on in the Houston area. They outline the benefits of the upgrades and recognize, that “problems did occur in the execution during time of transition between North and South Houston” saying some was out of their control. They admit service was poor in January. USPS says service is steadily being restored.

USPS statement on delays and modernization project. (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Are you dealing with mail delay issues?

We strongly encourage customers who have concerns to contact us either online or via our toll-free number. When customers reach out, they can provide vital details to our customer service staff.

A number will be assigned to each case, allowing the Postal Service to fully research the situation and provide a suitable resolution for our customers. Customers may call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) or visit our website at www.usps.com/help.”

About the Author

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

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