TRAVERSE CITY — False claims made in a viral video targeting Barlow Post Office workers, did not diminish the success of vote-by-mail during the recent presidential election, a national union official said.
“The arrows were strong and constant that somehow this was going to be a fraudulent process, a rigged process and just the opposite is the case,” Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union said during a call-in news conference Tuesday.
“Facts are facts,” he added. “What happened in Traverse City — the inspectors are involved, they’re doing their investigations, it certainly doesn’t seem to have merit.”
A video shared widely on social media earlier this month had claimed postal workers at the Barlow branch backdated absentee ballots.
A separate video by the same producers made similar claims about absentee ballot irregularities in Erie, Pennsylvania, though the postal worker interviewed on camera has since recanted, a nonpartisan voter advocacy group, FactCheck.org, found.
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform later confirmed this, citing information received from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.
The backdating narrative could not have impacted the election in Grand Traverse County, local elections officials said, as ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day cannot be counted by state decree.
In Michigan, it is arrival time, not postmark date, that determines the cut-off.
“We are not a state where absentee ballots that come in after the election can be counted,” said Grand Traverse County Clerk Bonnie Scheele. “They have to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.”
A local postal union official agreed.
“The ballots had to be in the offices that day by 8 p.m.,” said Ron Krumrie, acting president of the local postal workers union. “The fact that the exact same thing came up in Pennsylvania? It could be a setup.”
The FBI, the USPS Inspection Service and the Office of Inspector General are investigating, a USPS spokesperson previously confirmed.
Sabrina A. Todd, USPS customer relations, said in an email no further information was available.
Mara Schneider, FBI spokesperson for Michigan, said the USPS was taking the lead on the investigation but that the FBI was assisting as necessary.
Dimondstein highlighted the importance of postal workers in accurate and secure elections, but expressed frustration with current departmental funding.
“Simply put, we defended democracy, but now the people must defend the Postal Service,” he said.
“Last quarter, the three to five day first-class mail standards were at a rate of 72 percent,” he said. “Completely unacceptable, even given the challenges of the COVID pandemic.”
In August, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a package of bills which included $25 billion in funding for the USPS. The Senate version allocated $10 billion and Congress has yet to reach an agreement.
U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is currently the subject of a range of civil suits regarding new policies he said were instituted to cut costs.
A recent report by the U.S. Inspector General found operational changes made by DeJoy, significantly slowed mail delivery in advance of the election.