Trump’s Assault on Post Office Threatens Election Integrity

In the week where the Republican party is holding its virtual convention, US President Donald Trump is attempting to promote a positive message. It served as an official rebuttal to a week of Democrats blasting President Donald Trump in their convention.

Speakers at the RNC praised Trump’s character, his first-term accomplishments, and his performance during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile away from the cameras, a crisis is unfolding at the United States Postal Service (USPS) which threatens to have a big impact on the election in November.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, mail-in voting has become extremely popular in the US. While many other countries have begun to take control of the crisis, numbers of cases and deaths have remained high in US.

A lack of leadership by the White House has meant the crisis has spiralled out of control, especially after they decided to end a $200 million pandemic early warning program designed by President Obama just three months before people began to be infected in China.

It is expected that large swathes of Americans will vote by post instead of showing up to a polling booth on election day and increasing the risk of contracting COVID.   If recent election trends hold and turnout increases, as experts predict, roughly 80 million postal ballots will flood election offices this autumn, more than double the number that were returned in 2016.

While individual states have different rules, at least three-quarters of all American voters will be eligible to receive a ballot in the mail for the 2020 election. All of this extra postal activity requires extra funding and the Democrats have included $25 billion of funding for the USPS in their ongoing stimulus negotiations. 

President Trump flatly admitted he opposes aid to the Post Office because he wants to prevent mail-in voting. “They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. 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,” he said on Fox News. “But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because you they’re not equipped to have it.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign called Trump’s comments an “assault on our democracy,” in a statement.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Head of the USPS Louis DeJoy, a major Trump donor, has been reducing the Postal Service’s capacity ahead of the election in what many critics fear is an attempt to further cripple its capacity to process mailed ballots.

Photos that spread across social media in recent weeks showed truck beds stacked with dropbox mailboxes — large, blue Postal Service boxes in which mail can be dropped off on the side of the road without having to visit a Post Office.

It has also been discovered that USPS instructed all maintenance managers around the country not to reconnect or reinstall any mail sorting machines they had already disconnected according to emails obtained by Motherboard.

This is all significant because it allows the President to continue with his narrative that if he loses it will be a result of election fraud. “The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “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!”

This is despite the fact that countless numbers of bipartisan studies have concluded that there is no significant evidence that voter fraud is anywhere near the levels that Trump and his allies allege.

If USPS funding is delayed and mail-in-voting chaos ensues, it will most likely reduce overall voter turnout. Trump’s approval numbers over the last three years suggest that he is unlikely to win re-election on the state of his popularity. It seems that his strategy is to make it as difficult as possible to vote.

If Trump does lose, he will insist that it was not the result of voters choosing Biden over him but rather a function of those cheating Democrats and their “rigged” mail-in ballot scheme, because Donald Trump doesn’t lose. The only way he could lose, in his own mind and those of his enablers is if he was cheated in some way.

Words by Richard Hansen

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