The United States Postal Service will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, but this independent agency of the federal government will face its biggest challenge in history within the next three months. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, the USPS will play a crucial role in the way the elections are conducted. The Biden 2020 and the Trump 2020 campaigns will both depend on the smooth and efficient handling of mail-in voting, but there are early signs that things could get ugly before they even get started.
Political analysts debating the American two-party system of governance complain that it is too divisive and easy to politicize. Looking at the 2020 presidential elections and the involvement of the Post Office, one might have to give these analysts credence. President Trump, desperately seeking reelection, seems to think that mail-in voting is a recipe for fraud and election rigging.
The Trump 2020 campaign has formulated a dubious argument against mail-in voting, and it is largely based on political ideology. Democrats in Congress are urging voters to take advantage of mail-in ballots because of pandemic concerns. Voting by mail is not meant to be universal; polls must open in November because that is how the American electoral system works, but there are extremely valid concerns to extend mail-in voting this time around.
Republicans in Congress have not warmed to the idea of extended mail-in voting only because Trump is aligned with their party. Trump has been opposed to social distancing, lockdown restrictions, and even the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He does not like the idea of millions of mailed ballots stacking up against him; he prefers to see his supporters risking contagion and standing in line at their designated polls. He is likely envisioning news segments about angry voters demanding to exercise their right to cast physical ballots even if they are not wearing masks.
Thus far, the Biden 2020 campaign has only skimmed the surface of mail-in voting. There really is no need for Biden to harp on this issue because his colleagues in Congress are utilizing common sense.
As for the USPS, this venerable agency has been somehow found itself on the receiving end of Trump’s vitriol since the 2016 elections. Trump has argued that the Post Office is a bloated agency that could be raking in the cash if it chose to charge extra for Amazon parcel deliveries. Trump has appointed Louis DeJoy, a millionaire donor to his campaign, as Postmaster General; under DeJoy’s administration, which started in June, the Postal Service has undergone a transformation whereby mail carriers are no longer getting paid overtime, thus slowing down delivery.
Trump has been very active posting Twitter updates denigrating mail-in voting and even suggesting that the Post Office will not only bungle ballot delivery but also be open to voter fraud. We can only hope that the Post Office will rise to the occasion as it does with absentee voting for the Armed Forces and for Americans living overseas.