Trump is sabotaging the mail — and it threatens to undermine the election

Trump is sabotaging the mail — and it threatens to undermine the election
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brittany Gonzalez, 52nd Force Support Squadron military postal clerk, sorts and seperates incoming mail at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, April 14, 2020. When packages arrive via a mail truck, post office employees must sort through, stock, and prepare the mail for pickup. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovante Johnson)
Election '20

Donald Trump has had a vendetta against the U.S. Postal Service throughout his time in office, but it only took center stage after he realized that the Postal Service would be an essential part of the elections because voting by mail is more important during the coronavirus pandemic. But while Trump’s efforts to destroy the Postal Service have only ramped up in the past couple months, destroying things is one of his areas of greatest competence, so there’s very real worry about voting by mail in November, and, as a result, about the elections as a whole.

“It seems like they're just trying to turn customers away from the post office,” the president of the Cincinnati American Postal Workers Union local told The New York Times. A West Virginia American Postal Workers Union (APWU) local president had a related view, saying: “It’s like they’re setting us up for failure.”

Trump installed Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor with no postal experience, as postmaster general, to do the damage, and DeJoy has moved quickly. Friday night, news broke that DeJoy had ”overhauled” top Postal Service leadership and consolidated power around himself. That followed DeJoy cutting overtime and changing policies to make it more likely that mail would be delivered late. Some routes have missed delivery altogether under DeJoy’s program of sabotage.

These changes have already affected one election, with Michigan's primary seeing some voters not get their absentee ballots in time, even when they’d requested the ballots far in advance. Congressional Democrats have pushed back on the changes, including concerns about the Postal Service in their negotiations over the next coronavirus stimulus—but with Trump committed to sabotage, that has been one of the major sticking points in those negotiations. House Democrats have called DeJoy to testify, but that won’t happen until September, if he shows up at all.

Even some Republicans are concerned. Four Republicans were among the 84 House members who signed a letter saying it’s “vital that the Postal Service does not reduce mail delivery hours, which could harm rural communities, seniors, small businesses and millions of Americans who rely on the mail for critical letters and packages.”

DeJoy claims that the changes he’s making at the Postal Service—changes that have already had such negative effects on mail delivery—won’t harm its ability to deliver ballots. But he’s already laying the groundwork to shift the blame, saying that “we cannot correct the errors of the Election Boards if they fail to deploy processes that take our normal processing and delivery standards into account.” But this comes as he’s slowing down “normal processing and delivery standards.”

There’s a race on now: Does the time between now and November give DeJoy more time to do ever more damage to the Postal Service and undermine the elections? Or does it give the public and congressional Democrats time to push back and make Trump and DeJoy rethink the wisdom of destroying the most popular part of the federal government just before an election?

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