Donald Trump is now saying the Postal Service cannot handle mail-in balloting.
Donald Trump tweeted a series of attacks on the U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, suggesting it is not up to the task of handling mail-in ballots. By spotlighting issues of speed and reliability, he not only attacked the efficacy of voting by mail but also the nation's postal delivery system overall.
It comes after he has undermined the postal service and its workers throughout his administration.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted a video from a local television station in Georgia, showing an experiment in which a reporter mailed hundreds of ballot-shaped envelopes to a post office box to see how long it took them to arrive. Most, but not all, had arrived within several days. The station noted that the small percentage that did not immediately arrive could represent a huge chunk of the vote in a close election.
Trump then cited this "testing" as an example of why voting by mail in the 2020 elections would not work. "Mail-In Voting is already proving to be a catastrophic disaster," he claimed.
Without evidence, he claimed, "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history." Many states make no distinction between mail-in and absentee voting, and both methods rely on the same postal system.
Since then, he has repeatedly demanded the Postal Service charge Amazon more to deliver its goods. The online retail giant's founder, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post — a news outlet Trump has derided as "fake news."
Trump's budget proposals have pushed for significant cuts to the Postal Service's budget. In February, he proposed $97 billion in spending reductions over the next 11 years to "restore solvency." In June 2018, an administration task force even recommended possibly privatizing the agency entirely.
As the agency has struggled financially, Trump has refused to support an emergency bailout. In April, his administration reportedly refused to sign a pandemic emergency response bill if it included any money for the Postal Service.
"We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [money for the Postal Service] was in it," a Trump administration official told the Washington Post. "I don't know if we used the v-bomb, but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that."
Trump derided the agency as a "joke" and said he would block any bailout until the Postal Service raised prices.
"The post office, if they raised the price of a package by approximately four times, it would be a whole new ballgame," he told reporters. "But they don't want to raise it because they don't want to insult Amazon, and they don't want to insult other companies, perhaps, that they like. The post office should raise the price of the packages to the companies. Not to the people, to the companies. If they did that, it would be a whole different story."
The current postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, is a major donor to Trump, who appointed him to his position in early May.
Last week, Fortune reported that DeJoy planned to slow mail delivery and reduce overtime for postal employees. It noted that a recent internal Postal Service memo warned that "one aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that—temporarily—we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks, which is not typical."
On Wednesday, MarketWatch reported that the Postal Service is also considering closing post offices in the upcoming months.
These potential moves come as millions of Americans prepare to vote by mail in the November elections.
The American Postal Workers Union has endorsed voting by mail as an effective system. And on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the postal service told the New Yorker that it was ready for increased mail-in voting.
"The Postal Service is committed to delivering election mail in a timely manner," Martha Johnson told the outlet. "The Postal Service's financial condition is not going to impact our ability to process and deliver election and political mail."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.