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

LAS VEGAS– The USPS announced Tuesday that it will move forward with its plan to divert mail processing in the Reno area to Sacramento, a move that drew bipartisan anger from Nevada lawmakers as questions arise about the speed at which mail-in ballots can be processed in a densely populated part of a crucial swing state.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has labeled the permanent measure as a cost-cutting measure, but federal, state and local lawmakers have complained about a lack of transparency in the process that could slow the mail across 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 elections official, previously said that relocation operations could delay the processing of mail-in ballots and “have the potential to disenfranchise thousands of Nevada voters and would undoubtedly impact the results of the Nevada elections.”

In Tuesday’s statement, the USPS said “the business case” supports moving the processes to California because most mail processed in Reno is destined elsewhere. The Reno facility remains open as an area where mail is prepared before it is sent. USPS will invest $13.4 million in the facility, mainly for renovations, according to 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,” spokesman Rod Spurgeon said in an emailed statement.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, who opposes the restructuring, previously told reporters that USPS officials had indicated their tentative plan was to begin the diversion 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 concern that even in good weather, the Postal Service could experience traffic delays during the hours-long round trip over the Sierra Nevada, which lies between Reno and Sacramento. The area is also known for heavy snowstorms for much of the year, including a snowstorm in March that dumped up to 10 feet of snow and supplied ammunition to critics of the action.

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

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

In a statement after the announcement, Rosen said she was “outraged that the overreaching bureaucrats in Washington think they know what is best for our state.”

“Let me be very 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 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 Washington’s mismanagement for timely and efficient mail service for Nevadans.”


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.