A record number of people are showing up to the polling booth by staying home. In the age of coronavirus, the United States Postal Service is largely to thank for this phenomenon, as more people are mailed absentee ballots while opting out of in-person voting. Now, just a few months ahead of the November election, President Donald Trump is waging an attack against the service.
Here's what we know.
Trump doesn't want to fund the USPS.
Trump recently said that negotiations over another coronavirus stimulus package have been stalled in Congress due to the Democrats' proposing $3.6 billion in aid for states to run their elections in November, as well as $25 billion to the USPS.
“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo, per The Guardian. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
Trump this morning why he won’t fund US Postal Service. “Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots ... But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.” pic.twitter.com/73NBmSnoNC
— The Recount (@therecount) August 13, 2020
He falsely equated mail-in ballots with voter fraud.
Trump has also decried the expansion of mail-in ballots, baselessly accusing the voting method of electoral fraud. “Mail ballots, they cheat,” he recently said, per The New York Times. “Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters. They go collect them. They are fraudulent in many cases. They have to vote. They should have voter ID, by the way.”
Despite this rhetoric, studies actually show the opposite, revealing that voter fraud tends to be extremely rare.
Trump has rearranged USPS leadership.
It's no longer a surprise to anyone that the president is a fan of firing and replacing those working in his administration. Even so, the recent axing of 23 USPS executives earlier this month may raise some eyebrows.
According to the Washington Post, Trump has "reassigned or displaced" at least 23 USPS executives. A hiring freeze will also be implemented, according to the memo obtained by the Post, and the service will begin requesting early voluntary retirement.
Trump's appointment of Louis DeJoy, a businessman with $70 million invested in companies that are competitors with the USPS, as the Postmaster General also runs against the grain of an agency that usually hires "USPS lifers," according to New York Magazine.
Critics have sounded the alarm on the leadership changes, alleging that the move will undermine the agency's ability to function and serve the people. As Intelligencer's Adam K. Raymond wrote, Trump is "weakening" the USPS "and then using that weakness as a reason to argue against mail-in voting."
Social media posts show the removal of blue USPS mailboxes.
Now, just months ahead of the November election–in which Trump will face off against a Democratic presidential ticket featuring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris–photos from Oregon posted online seem to show the mass removal of the blue USPS mailboxes. In the images, multiple blue mailboxes are stacked in the back of a pickup track.
Has anyone else seen or confirmed USPS removing mail boxes in Portland this week? This pic from an observer in NE Portland via fb. @alex_zee @tessriski @EvertonBailey @PDXzane @TheRealCoryElia pic.twitter.com/trCoDBZtiK
— Steve 🎇 (@Intersection911) August 13, 2020
Another similar photo taken in Eugene, Oregon today. pic.twitter.com/mFD6jFnzvk
— Steve 🎇 (@Intersection911) August 13, 2020
"The reason we're doing it is because of declining mail volume," a USPS spokesperson told Willamette Week. "Ever since the pandemic came along, people are mailing less for some reason."
Another USPS spokesperson told KOIN 6 that the photos reveal a "normal operational procedure. "We still have carriers come to every single home six days a week and they collect any outgoing mail that is available,” he additionally told the outlet. “We are the most trusted Federal organization and the most trusted brand in America. We take that trust very seriously and the Postal Service is fully committed to serving Oregon.”
Soon after, Montana Senator Steve Daines also announced an investigation in his state after orders for the removal of 13 collection boxes went public.
“For decades, the installation and removal of the Postal Service’s iconic blue collection mail boxes from streets across the country has been based on mail volume received in those boxes,” a USPS representative told NBC. “It is a fluid process and figures can vary from day-to-day. Historically, mail boxes have been removed for lack of use and installed in growth areas.”
Still, many are remaining vigilant as election day nears. "USPS has to post signs on mailboxes 30 days prior to removal," tweeted news analyst Janet Harris. "They can be removed by law they get less than 25 pieces of mail on average per day, after a public comment period. Please ask your LOCAL elected officials to file with the courts for an emergency injunction!"
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy reversed course.
After public outcry to multiple changes in the postal service operations, Postmaster General DeJoy announced that the measures, which included eliminating overtime for mail carriers, reducing post office hours, and removing the blue USPS mailboxes, would be suspended until after the 2020 election, per The New York Times.
"There are some longstanding operational initiatives—efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service—that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic," he said in a statement. "To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded."
The move comes after at least two lawsuits involving more than 20 states have been filed, per CNN.
How You Can Help
Ensuring that the postal service gets the funds it needs in order to run efficiently will require a concerted effort and collective action. While some ways you can help save the USPS are listed below, plugging in to your local community organizations and working with your neighbors are also of the utmost importance.
Buy Stamps and/or Merch
A variety of stamps and merchandise are available for purchase at the USPS website.
Contact Your Representatives
Text "USPS" to 50409 to automatically send a letter to your senators and representatives to demand funding and show support for the USPS.
Signing this petition by Common Cause will add your name to a list of people urging Congress to pass funding for the postal office. Sign Here
This petition by the Center for American Progress demands that the White House stop blocking funding for the USPS. Sign Here
This Change.org petition supports the passage of the HEROES Act and the USPS Fairness Act in support of the postal service. Sign Here
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