There has been a substantial slowdown of the mail in the United States in July and August. Trump admitted on TV this week that he is denying the postal service funding because he doesn’t want masses of citizens to be able to vote by mail. Trump said to Fox Business News: “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… If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped.” (Gallup polls show Trump has never had majority support from Americans for a single day of his presidency.) There has been a massive surge in interest in mail voting because the United States continues to have the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world.
While there have been constant new lows living under this regime, the sabotage of a basic public service that 91% of the American public has a positive opinion of is a new low.
While there have been constant new lows living under this regime, the sabotage of a basic public service that 91% of the American public has a positive opinion of is a new low. A well-functioning postal service is one of the defining features of a developed country that distinguishes it from developing countries where the mail is much slower and unreliable. (In Latin America my neighbors and I did not have mailboxes or home mail delivery.)
The sabotage began after Trump installed a political donor of his to run the post office. In July the head of the post office DeJoy banned overtime by postal workers and changed longstanding practices that ensured mail was delivered as timely as possible. 15% of mail sorting machines that process hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail per hour are being removed. Blue collection boxes on street corners in several states were suddenly hauled away though fortunately due to public outcry this has been halted. All these cuts in service were made in the name of “economic efficiency” a few months before the November general election.
Reuters reports that substantial delays have been reported with the mail in 19 out of 50 states. A map from the Washington Post shows the worst delays seem to be in cities where Trump is unpopular and in the swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas. (Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is neck and neck with Trump in Texas polls.) The USPS sent a warning to 46 states that it may not be able to deliver ballots in time for them to be counted.
The consequences of a mail slowdown are vast. People’s paychecks, Social Security checks, rent checks, medicines, and other time sensitive documents are not arriving when they need them to. Business has never relied more on the mail to get its products sold but has found a previously reliable mail service suddenly sabotaged. Business owners have said they have had to start using UPS & FedEx to ship their products which is much more expensive and will likely reduce sales. This slowdown will also affect even these competitors as shipping companies such as UPS, FedEx, and Amazon’s shipping arm frequently rely on USPS to carry their packages the last few miles where it would be uneconomical for these private shippers to deliver.
Like many other Americans I have been buying things mainly online since the pandemic lockdown began. I recently received a small package from New York that took 19 days to arrive in Los Angeles after it was accepted at the post office. For decades one could count on fact that a letter or package sent via regular first-class mail would likely take no more than a week to get cross country. Even at the height of stay at home orders in April & May when non-essential businesses were closed and there was an unprecedented surge in packages, those packages arrived much more quickly than they do now in August. There is absolutely no reason that this should be the case except that Trump’s new postmaster has thrown a wrench into the gears of the postal service.
Even Priority Mail service which is supposed to be delivered within 3 business days has been substantially delayed. In June I had a package delivered via priority 1 day mail from my same city, and I received it the next day. I ordered from the same company in my city this month, and my priority 1 day mail package arrived 4 days after the post office received it.
Americans are angry at the sabotage of their mail and on August 15ththere was a protest outside Postmaster General DeJoy’s DC home. Because corruption is standard in the Trump regime, DeJoy has millions of dollars in investments in competitors and contractors of the postal service and now the Inspector General of the post office will investigate his policies after a complaint was lodged by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Already some Republican senators are pushing back as many of them represent rural areas where the postal service is a crucial lifeline and rates for private shipping exorbitant. Only time will tell if this mail slowdown persists through the election. Trump surely intends to do that but the negative consequences are so wide reaching for all Americans and for the economy that there is already a huge outcry and even Republicans may force him to back down.
To any US citizens reading this, please make sure to request your mail-in ballot early, and don’t forget to sign your ballot. In most places you can drop off your ballot at drop-off locations including your local election office, and if you are going to mail your ballot, mail your ballot as soon as you can, even mailing it a week before does not seem to be sufficient time as it has been in the past. Several states also now have websites where you can track if your ballot was received.