During a Thursday morning interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News, President Donald Trump openly touted the fact that if he keeps funding from the Postal Service, then mail-in ballots might not be able to be used as effectively as they would otherwise. Trump has repeatedly raised conspiracy theories about the supposed fraud potential of mail-in ballots, but there’s never been any evidence for his claims of some kind of systematic threat to election legitimacy. In reality, throughout most of his ranting, he’s just seemed paranoid that he’ll lose the election if Americans get the chance to really have their voices be heard.
Trump told Bartiromo:
‘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.’
Trump saying clearly on Fox why he won’t fund USPS. “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…”
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) August 13, 2020
Trump has openly ranted and raved against mail-in voting, so it seems clear that this anti-Postal Service modus operandi is what he’s going with. To be clear, the country is not and has never been set to use “universal” mail-in voting, and on top of this fact, Trump has previously tried to distinguish “mail-in voting” from “absentee” voting — the latter of which Trump thinks is fine — but that’s ridiculous. Mail-in voting and absentee voting are synonyms for the same thing. How does he think that absentee ballots generally get to elections authorities? Via the mail! In other words, Trump doesn’t just seem paranoid about the possibility of losing — he also seems incompetent.
Currently, the Postal Service is led by the Trump-allied Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was recently appointed to the position by the Postal Service’s Board of Governors. DeJoy has implemented sweeping operations changes, like the elimination of overtime opportunities for hundreds of thousands of employees, which some observers are concerned could have a negative impact on mail-in voting’s effectiveness. If the mail slows down, that’s not exactly conducive to mail-in voting.
Recently, 175 Democratic members of Congress signed on to a letter to DeJoy in which they demanded the rollback of some of his operational changes. They said:
‘It is always essential that the Postal Service be able to deliver mail in a timely and effective manner. During the once-in-a-century health and economic crisis of COVID-19, the Postal Service’s smooth functioning is a matter of life-or-death, and is critical for protecting lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy.’
Indeed — although Trump has claimed otherwise, mail-in voting is not some kind of conspiracy to hand the election to Democrats. It’s a necessary safety precaution in an age of the Coronavirus.
The lawmakers added:
‘The House is seriously concerned that you are implementing policies that accelerate the crisis at the Postal Service, including directing Post Offices to no longer treat all election mail as First Class. If implemented now, as the election approaches, this policy will cause further delays to election mail that will disenfranchise voters and put significant financial pressure on election jurisdictions.’
It’s not immediately clear where the issue might go from here. For starters, Coronavirus-connected relief negotiations are ongoing on Capitol Hill.