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Democrats demand US Postal Service boss explains moves that threaten ballots

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Under fire: Louis DeJoy, head of the US Postal Service

Under fire: Louis DeJoy, head of the US Postal Service

Under fire: Louis DeJoy, head of the US Postal Service

Top Democrats in the US Congress are to summon the postmaster general to testify this month on changes that have stoked fears they are aimed at holding up mail-in ballots for the November election.

The Postal Service's internal watchdog has begun investigating a wave of cost-cutting kicked off by postmaster general Louis DeJoy, a Donald Trump appointee, that has slowed mail delivery around the country, alarming lawmakers ahead of the November 3 election when up to half of US voters could cast ballots by mail.

Congressional Democrats called on Mr DeJoy, a donor to Mr Trump, and US Postal Service chairman Robert Duncan to testify in an August 24 ­committee hearing.

"The president has explicitly stated his intention to manipulate the Postal Service to deny eligible voters access to the ballot in pursuit of his own re-election," Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House oversight chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said in a joint statement.

"The postmaster general and top Postal Service leadership must answer to the Congress and the American people as to why they are pushing these dangerous new policies that threaten to silence the voices of millions, just months before the election."

Democrats have accused Mr Trump, who is trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in polls, of trying to hamstring the cash-strapped Postal Service to ­suppress mail-in voting.

Last week, Mr Trump himself said he had held up talks with Congress over a fresh round of coronavirus stimulus funding to block Democrats from providing more funds for mail-in voting and election infrastructure.

Mr Trump later made a U-turn on the comments, saying he would not veto a bill that included funds for the Postal Service.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN yesterday Mr Trump would agree to fresh postal funding of between €10bn (€8.5bn) and €25bn (€21bn). Ms Pelosi may recall lawmakers from a summer recess to address changes at the Postal Service, a Democratic congressional aide said.

Separately, Mr Meadows told CNN that the White House fears a surge in mail-in voting could delay election results and leave the naming of the new president to the speaker of the House.

"A number of states are now trying to figure out how they are going to go to universal mail-in ballots," Mr Meadows said. "That's a disaster where we won't know the election results on November 3 and we might not know it for months and for me that's problematic because the Constitution says that then a Nancy Pelosi in the House would actually pick the president on January 20. So we need to make sure that we do it right."

Mr Trump has repeatedly and without evidence said that a surge in mail-in voting would lead to fraud. Voting by mail is nothing new in the US, as one in four voters cast ballots that way in 2016.

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