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USPS commits to rerouting Reno-area mail despite bipartisan pushback and mail ballot concerns

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By GABE STERN Associated Press/Report for America

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The USPS announced on Tuesday it will follow through with its plan to reroute Reno-area mail processing to Sacramento, a move that drew bipartisan ire from Nevada lawmakers while raising questions about the rate at which mail ballots can be processed in a populous part of a crucial swing state.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has cast the permanent measure as a cost saving move, but federal, state and local lawmakers have complained about a lack of transparency in the process that could slow mail throughout the region.

Under the plan, all mail from the Reno area will pass through Sacramento before reaching its destination — even from one side of the city to the other.

Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, the state’s top election official, previously said moving operations could slow the processing of mail ballots, and “has the potential to disenfranchise thousands of Nevada voters and would unquestionably impact the results of Nevada’s elections.”

In the Tuesday statement, the USPS said “the business case” supported moving the processes to California, because most of the mail processed in Reno is destined elsewhere. The Reno facility will stay open as an area that prepares mail before it’s sent out. USPS will invest $13.4 million in the facility, mostly for renovations, per the agency.

“This plan for the Reno facility will help USPS achieve the core goals of our Delivering for America plan: financial sustainability for our organization and improved service reliability for our customers,” spokesperson Rod Spurgeon said in an emailed statement.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, who opposes the restructuring, previously told reporters that USPS officials indicated their tentative plan was to begin the rerouting in January, after the 2024 election. But in a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press, Spurgeon said there is no set date for implementation.

Lawmakers have expressed concerns that mail service can be caught in traffic delays even in the best of weather by the hour-long round trip drive over the Sierra Nevada, which lies between Reno and Sacramento. The area is also known for harsh blizzards throughout much of the year, including one in March that dumped up to 10 feet of snow and provided ammo for critics of the move.

Northern Nevada’s congressional delegation — which includes Rosen, Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei — sent a letter to USPS opposing the move and have long spoken out against it.

Other opposition came from Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo and the Washoe County Commission, which includes Reno.

In a statement following the announcement, Rosen said she was “outraged that out-of-touch Washington bureaucrats think they know what’s best for our state.”

“Let me be absolutely clear: this fight is not over,” she said in the statement. “As a member of the committee with jurisdiction over the Postal Service, I will continue to fight against this ill-advised decision and explore all available options to prevent it from being implemented.”

Lombardo said his administration, along with Nevada’s congressional delegation, will “continue to fight against mismanagement in Washington for timely and efficient mail services for Nevadans.”

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Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Follow Stern on X, formerly Twitter: @gabestern326.

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