Mail-in ballots. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’ve become a vital part of the American voting system. And with coronavirus hysteria changing how we live because it’s the new normal, the 2020 election could see a record number of mail-in ballots determining the winners and losers in November.
This likelihood should have served as motivation to ensure that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has the resources and support it needs to handle the increased workload and deliver every mail-in ballot on-time. But in the Age of Trump, where decisions are made to feed his narcissistic need for attention and constitutional concerns are always secondary to his political ambitions, we see an entirely different motivation at work — a desperate attempt to save his failing re-election.
In an April tweet, Trump — who recently suggested postponing or cancelling the 2020 election — began laying the groundwork on a plan to discredit mail-in ballots when he claimed they increased crime and voter fraud.
Mail in ballots substantially increases the risk of crime and VOTER FRAUD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2020
It was around this time that Louis DeJoy was installed as Postmaster General, the first person in over 20 years to get the job without ever working for the USPS, although he did have some limited experience with them as a third-party private enterprise.
Why was DeJoy appointed? Judd Legum with Popular Information gives us some insight into the answer to that question.
Before becoming Postmaster General, Trump had tapped DeJoy to be the finance chairman for the Republican National Convention. DeJoy has donated “more than $650,000 to the Trump Victory Fund and more than $1 million to the RNC,” including a $210,600 donation to the Trump Victory Fund on February 19.
With DeJoy in place, Trump intensified his false attacks on mail-in voting. Claiming on May 24, without evidence, that allowing people to vote by mail would result in the “greatest Rigged Election in history,” and that “mail boxes [sic] will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”
The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history. People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and “force” people to sign. Also, forge names. Some absentee OK, when necessary. Trying to use Covid for this Scam!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2020
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
While many wrote off his rantings because it was “Trump being Trump,” a few weeks after these tweets, DeJoy ordered dramatic changes to slow down mail delivery and make it more difficult for voters to receive and return mail-in ballots on time. DeJoy cut hours and eliminated overtime. An internal memo instructed USPS workers to leave “mail on the workroom floor.”
But that was the tip of the iceberg. In advance of a general election during a pandemic, DeJoy is systematically undermining the capacity of the USPS to deliver the mail on time. According to reports, DeJoy is “in frequent contact with top Republican Party officials” and “met with the president in the Oval Office” this month.
But Trump and DeJoy were just getting started.
In June, The USPS began “removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason.” According to documents obtained by CNN, it’s part of a plan to decommission 671 machines in cities around the country this year. Postal workers say the machines “have been dismantled and that it wasn’t immediately clear what the agency was doing with the parts.” The machines were slated to be removed before the end of September.
Sorting machines are what allow the postal service to process large volumes of mail. A machine with two operators has “the capacity to sort up to 30,000 mail items” daily. It would take 30 postal workers to sort the same amount of mail by hand.
The plan, if fully implemented, would eliminate 10% of the processing capacity of the USPS. The 671 machines “have the capacity to sort 21.4 million pieces of paper mail per hour.” Many of the machines scheduled to be removed are located in the cities and states that are expected to determine the winner of the election, including “24 delivery bar code sorters in Ohio, 11 in Detroit, 11 in Florida, nine in Wisconsin, eight in Philadelphia and five in Arizona.”
But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
The USPS has also been removing some of its signature blue mailboxes and hauling them away in flatbed trucks. Two Oregon cities, Eugene and Portland, are seeing mailboxes removed. It’s unclear how many mailboxes have been removed. But after widespread public criticism, the USPS announced Friday night that it would not remove any more until after the election.
Unsurprisingly, pro-Trump sites like The Blaze are referring to the USPS situation as a conspiracy theory, and a writer at The Resurgent called people who are concerned about it “Postal Truthers” spreading a “fake conspiracy” he labeled as “a political plot to ignite a dumpster fire where there isn’t even any smoke,” despite Trump himself recently saying he was wouldn’t negotiate with Democrats on the latest coronavirus bailout because he wanted to prevent mail-in ballots.
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
In his report, Judd Legum with Popular Information gives an ominous warning about where this is all heading.
As outrage over the changes at the USPS has grown, DeJoy has insisted that there is nothing to worry about. He says he is simply imposing “discipline” within the postal service. But the changes, DeJoy said in a letter to USPS workers last week, will not impact the USPS’ ability to deliver ballots. Instead, DeJoy claims, it “will increase our performance for the election.”
DeJoy’s assurances, however, are contradicted by what the USPS is telling states. Citing the anticipated volume of mail-in ballots, the USPS “recently sent detailed letters to 46 states and D.C. warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted.” The letters, sent to states at the end of July, warned that “[e]ven if people follow all of their state’s election rules, the pace of Postal Service delivery may disqualify their votes.”
Officials, including those in the swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida, were warned that “that their long-standing deadlines for requesting, returning or counting ballots were “incongruous” with mail service and that voters who send ballots in close to those deadlines may become disenfranchised.”
Pennsylvania responded by implementing a new policy that would count votes received up to three days after the election. But a court in Michigan ruled that it is too late to change its deadline. And many states will be unwilling or unable to change their procedures.
Tens of millions of mail-in ballots will be impacted by this so-called “conspiracy,” depriving tens of millions of Americans of a fundamental right. Seems to me that even the faux conservative media should have a problem with that, but they don’t. Instead, they will wink at this obvious attempt to sabotage the USPS because Trump must be re-elected and Democrats are worse.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.