As worry over locked and missing mailboxes spreads across the internet ahead of the November presidential election, the paranoia has run even more deeply through Capitol Hill after weeks of protest in the neighborhood stirring the anti-establishment vibe and a greater distrust of authority.
“The removal of USPS Mailboxes is trending nationally. Is there an explanation why mailboxes are disappearing on Capitol Hill? Are they leaving? The box on 15th E & E Republican is gone,” one of several recent notes to CHS reads.
A United States Postal Service spokesperson confirmed to CHS that some mailboxes have been locked or removed from Pike/Pine and Broadway due to security concerns in the area.
“It’s nothing new, we do this with other civil unrest and sometimes we’ll do it for parades,” USPS spokesperson David Rupert said, adding that “we’ll evaluate their replacement in the future.”
Three Capitol Hill mailboxes have fully been removed according to USPS records — at 1101 E Pike, 900 E Pine and 1400 Broadway — while a few others remain locked and sealed because of vandalism and “civil unrest” amid protesting, according to Rupert.
Although not the case here, Rupert says it is routine for USPS to evaluate dropbox density and remove redundant boxes. This process will be on hold, however, for 90 days while USPS evaluates “recent customer concerns,” Rupert said.
“This process is one of the many ways the Postal Services makes adjustments to our infrastructure to match our resources to declining mail volumes,” Rupert said.
Meanwhile, USPS is moving forward with plans to open a new Central District post office in the space formerly home to electric bike shop Electric Lady at 2207 E Union. At the beginning of 2019, USPS had to vacate from its Central District location in Midtown Center and redirect services to the Broadway Post Office as the shopping center prepared for a large-scale redevelopment.
The office of Councilmember Kshama Sawant reports the new post office is set to open in the coming weeks, although Rupert says USPS cannot confirm a specific date at this time. “The return of our Central District Post Office is a welcome development that came about through our collective advocacy and organizing,” Sawant’s office wrote.
With the reliance on mail-in voting as a result of COVID-19, security and access to postal services have risen to the forefront of public concern heading into this year’s election season, fueled by a USPS warning about mail-in ballot delays and President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about fraudulent mail-in voting. According to the Seattle Times, however, Washington state officials are confident in the USPS mail voting system as the election approaches.
“We have plenty of collection boxes, we have plenty of places to mail your ballots, we send carriers to homes every single day to collect ballots and to collect mail,” Rupert said, “so there’s plenty of opportunities to mail your ballots.”
On our Capitol Hill, there has been confusion and worry. But a quick community check shows that many neighborhood mailboxes ar fully accounted for:
15th and Roy! pic.twitter.com/0thikD4Z19
— Ryan Packer (@typewriteralley) August 16, 2020
And, when it comes to November, we always have the county’s ballot drop box on Broadway to turn to.
You can find available USPS collection boxes at usps.com.
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