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Here’s What’s Been Going On At The USPS

The COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on into election season, and, in social distancing protocol, the postal service will be more important than ever. However, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is experiencing a large amount of issues as election season nears. Here’s what’s been happening with the USPS, along with how this impacts voters: 

Louis Dejoy’s Scandals 

Louis Dejoy is the 75th postmaster general, a position which is appointed by the USPS board of governors– each of whom are selected by the president. Dejoy was an integral part of Trump’s campaign, serving as a major donor and GOP fundraiser. 

Part 1: Voter Disenfranchisement 

In August, the USPS reported that in 46/50 US states, mail in ballots could lead to disenfranchisement. Though the USPS had been struggling financially for a couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic was the last straw. The USPS needed help funding, but President Trump has a complicated relationship with the USPS. For years, Trump has argued the USPS should privatize. He’s been reluctant to provide the USPS with the funding it needs. 

Because Dejoy is in the head seat for the USPS, he has seconded the president. Dejoy has cut down funds by removing overtime for workers and cutting down on a variety of things. These include mail trucks, mailboxes and sorting machines. However, after mailbox removals blew up on Twitter, the USPS agreed to stop

These sorting machines are being taken away from swing states, a move that means voting by mail in these crucial states could lead to voter disenfranchisement. This would be worse in swing states since the margins for voting are always very tight. If some ballots are ignored or lost, then the state could end up going to the wrong person. 

Part 2: Dejoy’s Pressure for Donations 

Louis Dejoy’s other scandal involves his pressuring of his employees at New Breed Logistics. Dejoy would ask employees to donate to GOP candidates he supported, in return for a small bonus at the end of the year. Though he often reimbursed them more, this is considered illegal. 

The USPS board of governors (all Trump appointed) are standing with Dejoy, saying he did nothing wrong.  

President Donald Trump said he was open to inquiry on Dejoy for this issue. However, in the case of voter disenfranchisement, Trump maintained his position, saying Dejoy is a very honest man.

President Trump’s Mail-In Voting Skepticism 

Trump’s willingness to investigate the second issue, but not the first one shows his skepticism against mail-in voting. Trump has repeatedly called mail in ballots “rigged,” despite casting an absentee ballot of his own during the Florida primaries. 

Trump has falsely claimed that mail in ballots could mean undocumented immigrants could vote, adding fire to his passionate base. Issues like these have made the GOP more distrustful of mail in voting. 

In one of his more recent tweets, Trump also falsely claimed that Democrats could vote more than once by mail, information that Twitter fact checked and hid. 

Trump also proposed moving election day so people could vote in person. For more information, see this article.

Voters Requesting Mail in Ballots vs. In Person Voting 

The CDC recommends that voters in high risk areas use mail in ballots in order to minimize contact. But, the politicization of the virus means that the line is actually split between conservatives and liberals. More conservatives are willing to go out and vote. For example, in Pennsylvania, over a million liberals registered to vote, and only around 500,000 conservatives chose to do the same. This trend was repeated in another crucial swing state: Florida

When looking at the breakdown, 49% of voters still want to vote in person. There’s been growing tensions that if voters choose to vote by mail, their votes won’t be counted in time or correctly. 

Many Americans feel pressured to vote in person. While voters who are planning to vote by mail are 65% confident that their votes will be counted, 90% of those who plan to vote in polls are confident. The postal service crisis has made voters all the more skeptical, as many choose between safety and voting. 

However, despite Trump’s statements, around 73% of Americans are very supportive of mail in voting and consider it a plausible option. 

So, How Can You Support the USPS? 

The USPS can be supported in a variety of ways. There are simple tasks you can do to help. 

First, you can text USPS to 50409. This will send you through a program known as Resistbot. This program allows you to contact your senators and local representative and lets them know that you care about the postal service. Because these elected representatives are meant to serve you, if they receive enough pressure, they have to represent you. 

Second, you can buy different USPS related items in order to support them. It’s a great time to stock up on packages and other essentials. You can use these to write letters to all your friends or even check out pen pal programs. 

Third, you can sign petitions. Again, mounting pressure from Americans means Congress has to act. So, by adding your name to various petitions, you’re letting your representatives know you care. Here’s one from Change.org

But, the most entertaining way is to buy stamps! The USPS has made money off of stamp purchases for a long time. There are stamps for everyone, including heartfelt thank you stamps, cartoon characters, activism stamps and so much more. Stamps directly help out the USPS, not to mention you can start collecting them! Linked here is the USPS stamp store.

Photo: Yannik Mika via Unsplash 

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Joanna Hou
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Joanna Hou is a 17 year old high school student based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about current events, law, and politics. She is an avid writer, journalist, and musician (euphonium and flute). In her spare time, she enjoys reading and boba.

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