The Postal Service provides a vital service to the entirety of the United States. As a part of the federal government, the Postal Service is in a unique position. It faces competition from private entities like UPS and FedEx, yet it offers a service that is as essential as power or water. The shipment of goods is only one aspect of the USPS’s job: they’re also vital for a functioning democracy.
This year, this is truer than ever.
USPS in Crisis
The USPS handles mail-in ballots, helping to collect them and deliver them to election authorities. Without the USPS, millions of votes wouldn’t be counted each year. This year, however, the current President, Donald Trump, is choosing to cast doubt on the role of mail-in voting. Despite mailing his own votes in the past several elections he’s voted in, Donald Trump is convinced that mail-in voting is somehow prone to fraud.
As part of what may be a plan to undermine the 2020 election, Donald Trump has sought to defund the USPS. He has openly admitted in interviews that he wants the USPS underfunded so it can’t handle the wealth of mail-in ballots expected to be cast this election.
As a result, the USPS has warned some 46 states that voters may be disenfranchised due to the time it takes to process the ballots.
Voting by mail has been commonplace in the US for decades. Also called “absentee ballots,” mail-in ballots are not more prone to fraud than in-person voting. Nonpartisan research firms are in agreement that mail-in voting does not favor Republicans or Democrats.
In spite of these provable facts, the president continues to insist to the contrary. His active kneecapping of the Postal Service leaves even more anxiety and doubt over what is sure to be a fraught election.
Since taking office in 2017, Donald Trump has broken norms and tested the limits of presidential power. His opponents have accused him of using his position to line his own pockets, promote his own businesses, and stroke his own ego. Trump has denied these claims, insisting that he’s trying to do what’s best for the American people.
However, his opposition to mail-in voting stands as an opposition to fair and unbiased democracy. Many voting rights activists have decried Trump’s move as being an open act of voter suppression. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be difficult for many voters to make their way to a physical polling place.