[Breaking Updates!] The 2020 Election and the USPS – What You Need to Know
Dear Rich Lifer,
In yesterday’s issue, we dove into the issues surrounding the United States Postal Service and the upcoming Presidential Election.
Because of coronavirus, there has been a huge influx in requests for absentee ballots to vote in the 2020 election.
However, 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.
The USPS has been facing financial troubles for years and these troubles have resulted in measures to curtail costs such as ensuring trucks leave on time, banning extra trips, cutting overtime, and removing 10 percent of its costly and bulky mail-sorting machines.
These cuts have caused alarm within the American Postal Workers Union and some elected officials are calling for change.
But what changes are actually being called for?
Today we will take a closer look at what lawmakers and the Trump administration plan to do about these mounting concerns.
The Postmaster General
Louis DeJoy, a former logistics executive and donor to both the Trump campaign and Republican Party, was appointed as postmaster general by the Postal Service’s Board of Governors in May.
The Postal Service Board is bipartisan by statute and normally consists of as many as nine governors appointed by the president.
Mr. DeJoy’s methods to reduce costs has drawn criticism from congressional Democrats, who say the changes will delay deliveries, including mailed ballots.
However, DeJoy maintains that reducing inefficiencies is necessary to get the U.S Postal Service back on financial track.
DeJoy wrote in a letter to USPS workers that temporary delivery slowdowns were “unintended consequences” of his efficiency moves but that the “discipline” he was bringing to the agency “will increase our performance for the election and upcoming peak season and maintain the high level of public trust we have earned for dedication and commitment to our customers throughout our history.”
His predecessor, Megan Brennan, had also called for legislative and regulatory changes to address the Postal Service’s financial problems. In fact, in 2019 she proposed cutting the number of days mail is delivered to five, while expanding package delivery at seven.
Her proposals were shot down by members of congress including Mark Meadows, a former Republican congressman and current White House Chief of Staff.
Democratic lawmakers have pushed for DeJoy to testify in front of Congress.
In a written statement they claim, “Alarmingly, the postmaster general…has acted as an accomplice in the president’s campaign to cheat in the election, as he launches sweeping new operational changes that degrade delivery standards and delay the mail.”
The Postal Service has rejected claims of deliberately attempting to slow down mail of any kind, including election mail.
A statement from the USPS attempted to clarify why the letters were sent to each state:
During every election cycle, the Postal Service conducts regular outreach with state and local election officials regarding our mailing requirements, delivery standards and best practices for enabling voting by mail. The Postal Service is well prepared and has ample capacity to deliver America’s election mail. However, the increases in volume and the effect of when volumes were mailed in the primary elections presented a need to ensure the Postal Service’s recommendations were reemphasized to election officials.
President Trump has defended DeJoy calling him “a very smart man” and a “great Postmaster General.”
At least 20 states plan to file lawsuits this week against the U.S. Postal Service and DeJoy himself.
The suits will argue that the USPS broke the law by making operational changes without first seeking approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission.
They will also argue that the changes impede states’ ability to hold “free and fair elections.”
What About Proposed Funding?
As was mentioned in our issue yesterday, the USPS is an independent agency that doesn’t receive an annual taxpayer subsidy; but instead, is reimbursed by Congress for certain smaller areas, including delivering mail to the blind and overseas voters.
It is funded by the sale of postage and other services it provides.
Lawmakers had allocated $25 billion for the USPS in its coronavirus package, the CARES Act, in March, but the Trump administration blocked the funding, instead offering $10 billion in the form of loans from the Treasury Department and demanding “reforms” must be included as a condition of the loans.
Details of the loan have yet to be worked out, the Treasury said.
Trump is staunchly against allocating money to the USPS stating in an interview with Fox News:
They want three and a half billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent, that’s election money basically. They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. 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.
The Postal Service has said it has enough liquidity to fund operations through August 2021.
Kevin Kosar, a senior fellow and postal-policy expert at R Street Institute, believes, “I think they do need money, but not for election purposes.”
How You Can Still Vote By Mail
If you want to vote by mail, check your specific state requirements – our issue tomorrow will help with this – and request your absentee ballot as soon as possible.
Election officials say the best thing to do is to get your ballot in well in advance of your state’s due date. 41 states have some form of early voting.
The Postal Service has publicly recommended that voters mail back their ballot at least a week in advance of their state’s deadline.
Depending on where you live, you might have alternatives to the mail, such as being able to drop off the ballot at a secure dropbox, at the Board of Elections office, or at your poll site.
Due to the growing criticism regarding the removal of collection boxes, DeJoy has announced he will suspend, through November, the highly debated changes he has instituted to the U.S. Postal Service.
Additionally, Mark Meadows said that USPS will not dismantle any mail-sorting machines between now and Election Day.
His announcement also means that retail hours at post offices will not change, no mail processing facilities will be closed, and overtime for workers will be approved when needed.
Again, these roll backs are only slated to hold steady until after the November election. It is also unclear if the already removed collection and processing equipment will be replaced.
Even with these new updates, remember, voting rules still differ from state to state so it’s important to do your research to find the safest and most efficient way to make your vote count.
To a Richer Life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team