August 17, 2020


“President Donald Trump said [last] Thursday he was blocking Democrats’ effort to include funds for the U.S. Postal Service and election infrastructure in a new coronavirus relief bill… ‘The items are the post office and the $3.5 billion for mail-in voting,’ Trump told Fox Business Network, saying Democrats want to give the post office $25 billion. ‘If we don’t make the deal, that means they can’t have the money, that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.’ Trump later said at a news briefing that if a deal was reached that included postal funding, he would not veto it.” Reuters

Last Friday, the Washington Post reported that “the U.S. Postal Service recently sent detailed letters to 46 states and D.C. warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted.” Reuters

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday she is calling the House back into session over the crisis at the U.S. Postal Service.” AP News

Read our prior coverage of mail-in voting. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left worries that the Trump administration’s efforts and a lack of funding for the Post Office will disenfranchise voters and seed doubt about the election results.

“White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in an interview on Sunday that US Postal Service mail-sorting machines will not be taken offline between now and Election Day — a statement at odds with reports that the Postal Service is decommissioning 10 percent of its machines this year under a new policy…

“[CNN’s Jake Tapper] cited Chris Bentley, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 297, which covers Kansas and part of Missouri, who told CNN that postal management ‘has already taken out four machines in Kansas City, two machines in Springfield, Missouri, and one machine in Wichita, Kansas, that is earlier this year — under this new postmaster general.’… reports from NBC News, CNN, and the Washington Post indicate that 671 [mail-sorting] machines are being taken offline… If Meadows is claiming that a new machine removal initiative doesn’t exist when in fact it does, then his promise that new ones won’t be taken offline is, at best, questionable.”
Zeeshan Aleem, Vox

“For months, the President has been loudly proclaiming, without evidence, that widespread mail-in voting would lead to ‘massive fraud.’ It's a familiar rant. In 2016, Trump dismissed his 3 million popular-vote loss to Hillary Clinton with similar nonsense. A presidential panel he commissioned to investigate found no evidence to support such assertions. Now Trump, trailing in the polls, is pre-spinning the election results, setting up what could be a winter of litigation and turmoil centered around the counting of mail-in ballots…

“But state election authorities and nonpartisan experts have been clear: The risk of mail-in voting, which has been practiced in America since the Civil War, is not fraud. The risk is whether the embattled US Postal Service can deliver ballots on time… [Postmaster General] DeJoy has chosen this moment to make deep cuts, end overtime pay and fire 23 experienced top managers at the Postal Service less than a hundred days before the election.”
David Axelrod, CNN

“From a sheer numbers perspective, none of the experts I spoke with doubted that the Postal Service could handle a vote-by-mail election, even if every one of the nation’s more than 150 million registered voters stuck their ballot in a mailbox. As one noted to me, a presidential election might be a big deal, but in postal terms, it’s no Christmas. The Postal Service processes nearly 500 million pieces of mail every day, and it annually handles more than 3 billion pieces in the week before Christmas alone. ‘I don’t worry about their capacity,’ Amber McReynolds, the former director of elections in Denver, who now runs the National Vote at Home Institute, a mail-balloting advocacy group, told me…

“People like McReynolds are instead preoccupied by the changes DeJoy introduced within weeks of taking over the agency, and the cautionary letters the Postal Service has sent to election administrators in certain states. According to a memo published by The Washington Post, whose authenticity was verified by the American Postal Workers Union, postal employees are now instructed to leave mail behind at the post office rather than make extra trips or wait for a delayed truck—a directive that amounts to a sea change for men and women trained, in the words of one union official, that ‘when the mail comes in, the mail goes out.’…  ‘They’re ordering workers to leave mail for another day… That goes against our DNA.’”
Russell Berman, The Atlantic

“The thing is that Trump, by opposing money for the U.S. Postal Service and supporting ‘reforms’ that have slowed it down, is just handing former Vice President Joe Biden yet another easy campaign issue. Democrats may or may not be able to overturn new procedures that are causing significant problems, but they certainly can make sure that anyone who’s waiting on a letter or a package thinks that Trump is responsible when it doesn’t show up on time. And that’s not the kind of thing politicians want voters to blame them for.”
Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg

“Asked how they intend to vote, 80 percent of Trump supporters say they will vote in person (either on Election Day or earlier) and only 17 percent will vote by mail. Among Biden supporters, 58 percent say that will vote by mail as opposed to 40 percent who will vote in person. If these numbers are even close to reality, since in-person votes are generally counted before mail ballots, Trump will be in a position to take an early lead nationally and in most battleground states. Any appearance of a pro-Biden trend later, or for that matter any logjam or other problems with counting mail ballots, will undoubtedly be touted by Team Trump as evidence of fraud.”
Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine

Regarding the recent fraud case in New Jersey, “What the president may not realize is that he’s showing voters that even though problems exist—some serious and in need of sustained public education campaigns by local election officials—the situation he points to as evidence that mail voting can’t be trusted is an example of how hard it would be to rig elections at scale with mail ballots

“The four men alleged to be involved in the scheme were caught after a postal worker saw 347 mail ballots bundled together in a local post office and decided to take a closer look. That review led to more scrutiny of all of the ballots, leading to 3,274 being rejected by the local elections board… So what the national Republican official and the president are pointing to is a system that caught alleged misbehavior… if the president actually cared about a more accurate election via mail ballots—the method by which he and his family vote, by the way—he might consider supporting the funding and measures nonpartisan election officials advocate to support secure mail voting.”
AJ Vicens, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right argues that the problems with the Post Office are longstanding and there is no coordinated effort to sabotage the agency.

The right argues that the problems with the Post Office are longstanding and there is no coordinated effort to sabotage the agency.

“The majority of the attacks on the USPS have ignored a damning audit conducted by the Government Accountability Office, which was released in May and detailed the numerous inefficiencies within the agency that have led to its insolvency and poor service. ‘Absent congressional action on critical foundational elements of the USPS business model, USPS’s mission and financial solvency are increasingly in peril,’ the report states. ‘USPS’s growing difficulties to provide universal postal service in a financially self-sustaining matter provide Congress with the need to consider fundamental reform of the entire framework of postal services in the United States.’…

“While Democrats have called for additional funding of the Postal Service, the resistance to any attempt to implement cost-saving efforts runs against the sustainability goals of the agency… [USPS Spokesman David] Partenheimer pushed back on allegations of political interference, saying that ‘the notion that the Postmaster General makes decisions concerning the Postal Service at the direction of the President is wholly misplaced and off-base.’ Regardless of his proximity to Trump, DeJoy is not an appointee of the president, as that authority does not fall under presidential purview.”
Tobias Hoonhout, National Review

The letters sent to the states are “an attempt by the USPS to forestall state election failure… New York voters can request an absentee ballot using a mail application, which is valid if postmarked a week before Election Day. As a result of this lax deadline, plus a deluge of applications, roughly 30,000 ballots weren’t mailed to voters until June 22, a day before the primary election. That seven-day deadline ‘is unrealistic,’ Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, testified in court last month. The state board has argued for moving it back to 14 days, in line with the USPS suggestion of allowing seven days for delivery each way. Is Mr. Kellner complicit in postal sabotage?…

“The USPS understandably does not want to be set up for failure, which is evident in the laconic comment of its spokeswoman. ‘The Postal Service,’ she said Friday, ‘is asking election officials and voters to realistically consider how the mail works.’ President Trump isn’t helping Mr. DeJoy with his contradictory claims that mail voting will be ‘rigged,’ even as he says the USPS needs more money to execute it. But Democrats are as culpable for spinning post-office conspiracies without evidence.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“There is plenty of evidence that mail-in voting has the unintended consequence of disenfranchising of millions of eligible voters. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study of the 2008 presidential election found that about 3.9 million voters said they requested mail ballots but never received them; 2.9 million ballots that were sent out did not make it back to election officials; and about 800,000 were rejected for a variety of reasons…

“[During the 2016 primaries] In Pennsylvania alone, mail ballot problems kept about 92,000 people from voting in a primary in a state that Trump won by just 44,000 votes… None of these problems were because of fraud. They were because of mistakes by voters, postal problems or the inability to handle the massive surge in ballots that overwhelmed electoral systems not equipped to handle them. If election officials had this much trouble [handling] mail-in ballots during low-turnout primaries, imagine what will happen in the general election…

“Ironically, it could very well be Democrats who end up crying foul. A study of Georgia’s 2018 midterm elections found that mail-in ballots of ‘younger, minority and first-time voters are most likely to be thrown out.’ A study of Florida’s midterms that same year determined that mail-in ballots ‘cast by Black, Hispanic, and other racial and ethnic minorities were more than twice as likely to be rejected as … ballots cast by White absentee mail voters.’ Democrats now pushing for mail-in ballots will soon be claiming they are a tool of voter suppression.”
Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post

“The fact that Trump would block money for the agency because he disapproves of a method of voting endorsed by various states speaks for itself. He and the GOP will have to take their lumps on that. But the claim that he and his new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, are trying to sabotage the Postal Service from within by reorganizing it so that it’s less efficient remains unproved

“DeJoy has been discouraging overtime and ‘late trips’ by carriers, which means delays in delivery — but also means saving money, which is the ostensible purpose of the reorganization. Of course, whether a reorganization should be top priority at this very moment, with an election bearing down and timely delivery of essentials like medicine in the thick of a pandemic being of utmost importance, is another matter.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“The fact is the removal of mail collection boxes has been going on for years as part of cost-cutting efforts for the postal service and had nothing to do with the 2020 election. In September 2016, the USPS inspector general noted that ‘Nationally, the number of collection boxes declined by more than 12,000 in the past 5 years.’ This means that the USPS, during the Obama-Biden administration, removed thousands of mail collection boxes. Was this a diabolical plan by Obama and Biden to suppress the vote in 2020?…

“The USPS had been trying to save money long before Trump was in office, and the strategic placement of removal of collection boxes is a part of that. This isn’t about a plot to undermine the USPS. If Trump was trying to sabotage the 2020 election by removing collection boxes, I guess Obama and Biden were too.”
Matt Margolis, PJ Media

A libertarian's take

“Even if all voters used the mail and posted their ballots on exactly the same day, that would comprise only 30 percent of the amount of mail the USPS says it processes every single day. So if the USPS screws up delivering votes in a timely and efficient manner this fall, it won't be because of any sinister actions by the White House. It will be because of longstanding, well-documented managerial and cultural problems that gave rise to such stock portrayals of letter carriers as Seinfeld's Newman and Cheers' Cliff Clavin…

“For those who are interested in the post office's chronically bad performance and ‘unsustainable’ situation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has produced a long list of studies on where the problems come from and how they might be addressed. The short version is that Congress has blocked all sorts of serious reforms to an operation that has seen a 33 percent decline in mail volume since 2006.”
Nick Gillespie, Reason

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