The US Postal Service (USPS) issued a concerning warning on Friday, alerting states that their voters may risk having their votes not counted because of a delay in mail delivery services.
The ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic has spurred a national dialogue about the safety and security of in-person voting compared to mail-in voting. The direction of the nation will be decided with the 2020 presidential election scheduled for November 3. As it becomes more clear that in-person voting will be problematic as a result of the pandemic, many officials are pushing for mail-in voting options for those states that do not already have this process in place.Read More »
Trump Cuts USPS Funding: Despite the push for the mail-in voting for safety reasons, President Donald Trump continues to attack the process. On Thursday, the president stated that he opposed providing the postal service billions of dollars because the money would be used to increase mail-in voting opportunities.
As a result of the cost-cutting measures by the Trump administrations, the USPS was forced to issue a warning to many states outlining that the organization may not be able to guarantee that the mail-in ballots would be received with adequate time to be counted by the time mandated by the election laws. According to the Washington Post, 46 states received the letters of warning. The official warning comes on the heels of concern voiced by union officials regarding how the cost-cutting measures will affect mail-in voting procedures.
The warning came before Trump’s most recent attacks on the system and his directive to decrease funding to the USPS. Trump continues to criticize the USPS for losing money.
Details of the Warning: The crux of the warning centered on the prices that the USPS charges to deliver mail. Most states take advantage of the nonprofit bulk mail rate to send both absentee and mail-in ballots as well as applications for ballots. The letters say that the official mail relating to the election should be mailed by voters using the first-class mail system, exponentially raising the cost for the states to conduct the election via the USPS.
The reason that the USPS is warning the state election officials is that while first-class mail only takes between two and five days to be delivered, the bulk rate marketing mail can take up to 10 days. This longer delivery time could result in ballots not being received in time. The goal of the warning was to alert states to be mindful of what type of postage that they choose so that all votes are received and counted in time.
Secretaries of State Take Action: According to election rules, it is the Secretary of State that is responsible for their state’s election proceedings. Because of the warning, many of these government officials are working to take action to try to protect this sacred democratic process.
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman was the first official to reveal that she had received the warning letter from the USPS. Wyman said that she was concerned when she read the letter, particularly as it pertained to the warning that sending election mail at nonprofit rates may result in longer delivery times. The Republican Secretary of State said that she was able to confirm with the local USPS that Washington would still get first-class mail service while qualifying for the nonprofit marketing bulk rate for the ballots. Had the state not qualified for this bulk rate, it would cost $2.64 million to send the 4.8 million ballots. This compares to the nonprofit bulk rate total of $432,000. Wyman went on to reassure voters that she is in daily contact with the USPS in the days leading up to the election.
In addition to Wyman, the secretary of state in both Michigan and Ohio have revealed that they were already taking the necessary steps to safeguard the mail-in voting process even prior to receiving the USPS letter. The spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State said that the letter simply reaffirms that they have already been taking the right steps to protect the sanctity of the mail-in process in the Buckeye State. Similarly, the Michigan Secretary of State spokeswoman said that the letter is another affirmation that they need to stay in close contact with their USPS to ensure that the voting ballots are prioritized.
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