story updated 10:10 p.m.
NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Officials with the United States Postal Service say they have fired a North Texas mail carrier for skipping part of his route and not delivering a significant amount of mail by simply marking the letters and packages ‘return to sender.’
A number of items returned included voter registration cards and that’s now caused concern for Dallas County elections officials.
A single voter’s complaint led the Dallas County Elections Department to investigate and discover the post office delivery issue.
On Tuesday Dallas County Commissioners heard from elections administrator Toni Pippins-Poole. She told city leaders that a City Carrier Assistant working in Irving had been cutting his route short and stamping undelivered mail return to sender.
Apparently the mail carrier was doing this at the same time that voter registration cards were going out. As a result at least 388 voters in west Irving had their registration wrongfully suspended. Pippins-Poole said the department usually gets about 10-percent of cards returned so the office didn’t immediately notice there was a problem.
Out of more than one million voter registration cards mailed the department has had more than 90,000 returned this year. Workers are now trying to determine how many cards were returned from the route of the one mail carrier.
Pippins-Poole said the department will need help going through the returned cards. “We’re gonna have to hire additional… because we’re already full with the current election. So we’re gonna have to find temporary personnel to come in, so there is gonna be a cost for that to bring in temporary personnel to go through those and see if there really is a much wider problem.”
North Texan Robbi Hamida said he first noticed problems with his mail in December, but assumed the winter storm was to blame. “It was kind of shocking to find out the post office was sending everything back,” he said.
Hamida said he learned from relatives in December their Christmas cards were being returned. “Went to the postmaster general, tried to go through the postal police. No one was responding to us, and it just got worse.”
The missing mail also began to create financial issues for Hamida. He said a credit card charged him a $39 late fee, for failing to pay a bill he never received. Another card, he says, closed his account altogether. “The credit cards, the billing, family letters – it basically made me look really bad,” he said.
When Hamida went to vote he discovered his voter registration had been suspended after the post office returned his voter registration card, indicating he no longer lived in his home.
Anytime a voter registration card is returned that voter card is automatically suspended. But Dallas County officials said the affected voters will still be able to vote, they will be required to sign an affidavit at the polls confirming they still live at their listed address.
Postal Service officials said the mail carrier in question has been fired and three others suspended. They also issued the following statement –
“We apologize to our customers who have not yet received their voter registration cards. Yesterday, the Postal Service received a number of voter registration cards from Dallas County Election officials and they were re-entered into the mail system today. The Postal Service takes this matter very seriously and is currently investigating the issue. We are committed to delivering all voter registration cards in a timely matter.” — United States Postal Service
Citing the incident as a personnel issue, USPS officials would not release anymore information about the investigation or detail how long the delivery problem had been going on.
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