On Monday, the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, faced down members of the House Oversight Committee in a contentious hearing over DeJoy’s changes to the U.S. Postal Service’s procedures ahead of the election. A major Trump donor with as much as $75 million invested in Postal Service competitors, DeJoy has already overseen the decommissioning of 671 high-volume mail sorting machines, fired experienced Postal Service leaders, reduced office hours, limited overtime and removed mailboxes from our streets.
When asked about delays, DeJoy tried to argue that there were “other reasons” for mail delays. He also argued that actions like removing postal boxes will not impede the election. “I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” he said, adding that he himself was planning on voting by mail.
And yet, the fact remains that communities across the nation have experienced significant delays in their mail delivery. This isn’t a partisan attack — it’s a response to a very concerning trend in America that could put our democratic process at risk.
In my home state of Pennsylvania — a key battleground state for 2020 — the Trump administration’s political motives are obvious. During the June primaries, more than 1.4 million Pennsylvanians cast their ballots via the mail — approximately half of all ballots cast in my state. Despite the clear popularity of mail-in voting, the Trump campaign has sued the commonwealth to make it harder for Pennsylvanians to vote by mail, all while shamelessly promoting voting by mail in Republican-led states, such as Florida.
This isn’t a partisan attack — it’s a response to a very concerning trend in America that could put our democratic process at risk.
As the Trump campaign seeks to limit the ways Pennsylvanians can vote in November, the Postal Service recently sent a letter to Pennsylvania — along with 45 other states and Washington, D.C. — warning that it may be unable to guarantee that all ballots mailed for the November election would be received in enough time to be counted. The postmaster general’s recent measures have already caused significant mail delays in Philadelphia — a Democratic stronghold — and these delays have been further exacerbated after the Postal Service removed at least seven mail-sorting machines from a processing center in West Philadelphia. The decommissioning is expected to reduce the Postal Service’s sorting capacity in Philadelphia by approximately 310,000 pieces of mail per hour.
The sabotage of the Postal Service doesn’t merely have significant implications on our elections. It’s no wonder that over the past several weeks, I have received over 100,000 pieces of mail from veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, families with loved ones in prison and numerous other Pennsylvanians who have expressed concern with DeJoy’s policies because they rely on the Postal Service to stay connected and receive medical correspondence, prescriptions and paychecks. Kay from Adams County relies on the Postal Service to receive her glaucoma eye drops, which have always been delivered within 24 hours because they need to be refrigerated. She hasn’t received them in over four days. Michael from Lebanon County, a veteran and small-business owner, has gone a week waiting for his prescriptions to arrive in the mail, and his customers are experiencing delivery delays. And Linda from Philadelphia, a heart transplant survivor, had to wait more than two weeks to receive critical and time-sensitive information from her heart transplant team at Jefferson University Hospital.
Our founders viewed the postal system as a tool to bind our nation together — to share ideas and bring people together over thousands of miles of sparsely populated colonies and frontiers. It was — and still is — so vital to our nation that our founders enshrined it in Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution. The Postal Service’s unofficial creed of “neither snow nor rain” isn’t only one of the most recognizable government mottos in our country’s history; it is a testament to the fact that more than 90 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Postal Service — higher than for any other federal agency. In light of this reputation, millions of Americans have turned to the Postal Service to help them exercise their most fundamental right in our democracy — voting.
Voting by mail isn’t new in our country — it is commonly viewed as a safe and reliable method of voting that also increases voter turnout. For years, several states have conducted their elections almost entirely through the mail, and nearly 25 percent of all voters cast their ballots via mail in the 2016 presidential election. Now, in the midst of the worst public health crisis in 100 years, red and blue states alike have turned to mail-in ballots as a critical tool to help people protect their health and ensure their constitutional right to vote.
Voting by mail isn’t new in our country — it is commonly viewed as a safe and reliable method of voting that also increases voter turnout.
The last several weeks have demonstrated once again the disdain the Trump administration has not only for American democracy, but also for our nation’s foundational institutions. It is unsurprising that after years of self-interested political dealings and abuses of power, President Donald Trump has now targeted mail-in voting and the Postal Service in an attempt to disenfranchise voters and corrupt an election. Even though Trump and members of his family and his administration routinely vote by mail, the president regularly lies to the American people claiming that mail-in voting would lead to widespread voter fraud, an easily disproven and widely refuted assertion. The president has also admitted that his objections to emergency funding for the Postal Service are rooted in his desire to render it less capable of handling mail-in ballots in November.
Trump’s attacks on the Postal Service must be called out for exactly what they are: an assault on our democracy and government institutions and a contemptible disregard for Americans’ health and well-being. While the postmaster general has pledged to roll back many of these drastic measures, it is clear from his testimony to Congress that we can’t take his word at face value. Congress must continue to demand answers and accountability regarding this sabotage, as well as fight for $25 billion in emergency Postal Service funding.
Furthermore, every voter can take steps to ensure that the president isn’t successful in disrupting our November elections. We shouldn’t lose trust in the Postal Service, but we must also recognize the unprecedented challenges our postal workers are facing in delivering the mail. Nearly 250 years of history indicates that the Postal Service, under capable leadership, will handle whatever challenge is thrown at it, but now is not the time to procrastinate. If you plan to vote by mail, it is vital to request and submit your ballot as soon as possible. Together, we can ensure that Trump’s latest scheme is nothing more than another of his failed attempts to corrupt our democracy.