USPS boxes removed in Portland but not yet in Seattle

VIDEO: USPS boxes removed in Portland but not yet in Seattle

SEATTLE — A photo on Twitter showing postal collection boxes being removed in Oregon generated alarm at a time President Trump is making unsubstantiated attacks on the vote-by-mail system.

So, what's happening with the boxes?

Ernie Swanson of the U.S. Postal Service told KIRO 7 that in Portland and Eugene, some boxes are being removed because mail volume dropped during the pandemic.

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"We are removing some collection boxes in situations where there is one or two or three sitting right there together and we only need one," Swanson said. "We have not started doing that in Seattle yet. We may at some point, but not currently."

A KIRO 7 viewer alerted us to a collection box removed from Seattle's Fremont neighborhood.

Swanson said it was probably damaged and will be replaced.

"We remove the box but then we replace it with a newer, better one. It's not like we're taking it away forever," he said.

We also asked about the removal of mail processing machines, which has been reported around the country.

Swanson said that some machines in Central or Eastern Washington might be removed.

But, he said, they, too, will be replaced.

"We replace them with newer, more modern pieces of equipment," Swanson said.

Previously mundane mail operations are suddenly getting a lot of attention as the president tries to block new funding for the Postal Service, which is now run by a top Republican donor.

The Washington Post reported the USPS has warned mail delays could disenfranchise voters in 46 states.

In Washington, where vote-by-mail has been the norm for years, the warning is less severe, and both USPS and the Washington Secretary of State's Office are confident in election protocols.

Still, Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson released this statement Friday: “I am deeply concerned about changes at the Postal Service and their impacts on our elections and other mail services. I’ve been talking to other attorneys general, and we are considering all of our legal options. We have a strong record of stopping illegal actions by President Trump and his administration.”