Vermonters alarmed by apparent hobbling of Postal Service

Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 4:46 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermonters are among many residents of rural areas across the country concerned that the Trump administration, aided by his postmaster general, may be hobbling the U.S. Postal Service ahead of this November’s elections.

The ability to mail in ballots in Vermont helped set a record for voter turnout in last week’s primary. But in Montpelier Monday, a small group protested what they say appears to be the politicization of the postal service.

“Rural areas, particularly those that don’t have access to the internet are dependent. We are all dependent on the mail,” said August Burns of Middlesex.

The U.S. Postal Service earlier this summer sent out out warnings to states saying that even if ballots are mailed before state deadlines, they might still not make it to their towns and cities in time to be counted.

In Burlington, residents we spoke to say they are also alarmed. “We have a lot of confidence in our local election officials. We have a lot of confidence in our local mail system,” said Doug Facey, a local resident.

And many say the issue goes beyond voting. “There is just so much that I don’t think people realize that the postal service is still counted on for doing,” said MaryAnn Roy of Burlington.

Like getting people the medication they need. Lynn Vezina works for the Vermont Family Pharmacy in Burlington's New North End, one of two compounding pharmacies in the state which rely on the mail.

"We have really been a resource for people," Vezina said. "Like in central Vermont -- Barre, Northfield -- that are not going to come up here. Central Vermont Medical Center will call in a prescription for them and we will mail it to make it easier."

She says her pharmacy and their customers experienced delays because of the coronavirus. Some packages took up to 10 days to ship to customers within Vermont. "There was a three-week period where everything was delayed," Vezina said.

She now worries that with further mail delays, medicine might not get to patients quickly enough. "Any delays to the mail concern me, absolutely," she said.

The U.S. Postal Service did not respond to calls for comment Monday.

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