Nearly 3,800 pieces of direct mail for the Linden Board of Education race sent out six days before the 2019 general election were never delivered, triggering an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service.
More than three weeks later, binds of undelivered mail were inexplicably left on the porch of one of the unsuccessful candidates in a race that was decided by less than 300 votes.
The candidates – Tanya Grissett, Sherylann Tambornino and Vanessa Persaud – wound up taking the issue to Postmaster General after local post office officials were unresponsive.
“Since there appears to be no answer to how four carrier routes worth of mail was dropped on our doorstep weeks after the election took place, we are growing increasingly concerned there may have been a political agenda at the local post office,” said Tambornino.
The postal service said that their internal probe has been completed and that they are in the process of answering the Linden candidates.
“The Postal Service takes seriously its role in the elections process and has conducted a thorough investigation into the actions and circumstances around this mailing,” said George B. Flood, a postal service spokesperson. “A response to the customer and action plan for local postal operations will be issued shortly. We apologize for her experience with this mailing.”
According to Tambornino, “incidents such as this can have a crippling effect on consumer and public confidence in public institutions such as the USPS.”
“Millions of pieces of political mail flow through the USPS every year, and the cost to campaigns – especially local campaigns such as ours – can be high,” Tambornino said. “Citizens, taxpayers, and small businesses deserve to have confidence that their correspondence is processed free from political manipulation.”
Tambornino complained that local postal offices never got back her about the undelivered mail.
“After promising to look into the situation, they replied they could provide no update because the local postmaster was suddenly ‘on vacation,’” Tambornino said. “At times, they admit the entire situation is contrary to their procedures. At other times, they have been evasive and non-responsive. Most recently they have adopted a more defensive tone suggesting that perhaps we submitted this mailing too late to process prior to election.”
The Linden Post Office told the New Jersey Globe that local postmaster was on leave and forwarded the call to the officer in charge, Thelma Kabir. Kabir referred the Globe to media relations and hung up the phone.
Records provided to the Globe show that the mail was delivered to the post office on October 31 and was red tagged as expedited political mail.