By Rachel Epstein published
For months now, President Trump has attempted to delegitimize the practice of mail-in voting, which is the exact same thing as absentee voting and has been performed by the president himself. There is no evidence that confirms mail-in voting is synonymous with ballot fraud, but the president is not convinced. So, rather than allowing citizens to utilize a safer alternative to in-person voting during a pandemic, the administration is refusing to properly fund the United States Postal Service (USPS), which could result in voters' ballots not being received on time in 46 states.
To be clear, the USPS was suffering financially long before the pandemic, but the president is choosing not to fund the USPS by denying the request to give the Postal Service $25 billion as part of the second pending COVID-19 relief bill. (The request is not solely to accommodate mail-in ballots, but rather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.) The Postal Service reportedly asked Congress for $75 billion originally.
Internal issues with the USPS began when Louis DeJoy, a major Trump campaign donor, was named postmaster general in May. Once promoted, top USPS leadership was suddenly displaced, employee overtime was eliminated, and significant cost-cutting measures were enacted that will affect the efficiency of the Postal Service, including receiving mail-in ballots, and ultimately, the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
DeJoy has previously denied that election mail will be affected due to the measures mentioned above. "We will do everything we can to deliver election mail in a timely manner consistent with our operational standards," he stated. "Despite any assertions to the contrary, we are not slowing down election mail or any other mail. Instead we continue to employ a robust and proven process to ensure proper handling of all election mail." Yet there continues to be conflicting reports about whether the Postal Service is decommissioning 10 percent of its letter-sorting machines, ultimately affecting the USPS's ability to handle the overwhelming amount of mail-in ballots in the coming months.
On August 16, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, called upon Postmaster General DeJoy to testify at an Oversight Committee hearing, set to take place on August 24, regarding the operational changes occurring at the USPS. The request follows a 10-page letter sent on August 14 by Chairwoman Maloney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and several others requesting documents and information from DeJoy.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨 Chair @RepMaloney just called on @USPS PMG DeJoy to testify at an urgent Oversight Cmte hearing on Aug. 24 to examine his sweeping changes and their impact on mail-in voting. #SavetheUSPS Read more here: https://t.co/WETO762Dsq pic.twitter.com/PJn6XPoFHjAugust 16, 2020
If you're frustrated about what's going on with the USPS and are worried about your mail-in ballot not being received on time, we've outlined key ways, below, for you to help save the USPS.
The lack of USPS funding not only threatens the accessibility of receiving mail in rural areas and tribal lands throughout the U.S., where UPS and Fedex do not have access to (more on that here), but also the ability for people to receive the medicine they need to survive. In addition, nearly 100,000 military members and veterans are employed by the USPS, who could lose their jobs.
Call and email your representatives.
Congress is on recess from August 10 until September 7, but you can still email your representatives and demand action to help save the USPS. For an easy way to send a letter to your representatives, text "USPS" to 50409. A letter will be sent asking them to support Rep. Maloney's Delivering for America Act, which would "prohibit the Postal Service from implementing any changes to the operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020."
Buy stamps and/or gifts.
If you have the means, consider buying some stamps—any amount helps. The U.S. Postal Service is currently selling stamps featuring illustrations of historic suffragettes to commemorate the centennial of women's right to vote. However, it's important to remember that Black women did not receive the same right to vote until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The USPS also has an entire gift store you can shop from here. Did someone say USPS merch?!
Submit your mail-in ballot early and request a tracking number.
Voters should submit their mail-in ballots early to ensure their vote gets counted, and request a tracking number for a few extra dollars if they're able to. Reminder: A postal worker can pick up your ballot from the mailbox at your residence, if you have one, instead of you searching for an official USPS mailbox, which were being removed across the country.
Support organizations fighting to end voter suppression.
Register to vote.
If it wasn't clear before, your vote matters now more than ever. Take two minutes to register here. If you're worried about timelines for registering and submitting your ballot, you can see a full list of voter registration deadlines here.
Rachel Epstein is an editor at Marie Claire, where she writes and edits culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also manages the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game, finding a new coffee shop, or analyzing your cousin's birth chart—in no particular order.
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