President Donald Trump admitted on Thursday that he opposes additional funding for the United States Postal Service (USPS) in order to hinder mail-in voting in November.
In an interview on Fox News, Trump acknowledged that without proper funding, the USPS will not have the resources to handle and sort through the sheer volume of mail-in ballots in the upcoming general election.
While House Democrats have proposed a $25 billion relief package to aid the Postal Service, it has stalled on Capitol Hill.
“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,” Trump said on Thursday.
“But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
This is just the President’s latest attempt to undermine mail-in voting. He has spent the last few months attacking the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, falsely claiming that it will lead to widespread voter fraud.
While voter fraud does exist, it is by no means widspread. In fact, voter fraud rates in the US range anywhere between 0.00004% and 0.0009%, according to a 2017 study from the Brennan Center for Justice.
Trump has actually encouraged his supporters in these states to vote-by-mail, claiming that it is “safe and secure.”
Both the President and the First Lady have even requested mail-in ballots for themselves for Florida’s primary election on Tuesday.
Voting-by-mail can result in higher voter turnout, especially since the country is in the middle of deadly pandemic and the number or polling places have already been greatly reduced.
Mail-in voting can not only reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, but it is also more accessible to people with disabilities and to those who cannot afford to take off from work to go vote in person.
This is important now more than ever, especially since more and more states have experienced abnormally long lines at polling places during the primaries.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee, is helping the current administration suppress votes in as many as 48 states from inside the USPS.
Since his appointment in May, DeJoy has eliminated overtime, implemented a hiring freeze, halted delivery trips, and imposed routing changes, which have significantly delayed and slowed down mail delivery.
The USPS is also planning to remove 671 mail sorting machines across the country ahead of the election. This move comes despite claims from DeJoy that the Postal Service has “ample capacity” to deliver the projected influx of mail-in ballots.
These new policies and implementations under DeJoy are already having significant consequences. In Pennsylvania, residents may not have enough time to request, complete, and return mail-in ballots for the general election in November.
In a July 29 letter to Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, which was recently released, USPS executive vice president and general counsel Thomas J. Marshall warned that mail delivery delays could create “a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them.”
As a result, Governor Tom Wolf has asked the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to extend deadlines for mail-in ballots so that every single vote is received and counted.
In response to Trump’s recent comments, Joe Biden’s campaign called the President’s attacks on both the Postal Service and mail-in voting an “assault on democracy.”
“The President of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years,” Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.
“This is an assault on our democracy and economy by a desperate man who’s terrified that the American people will force him to confront what he’s done everything in his power to escape for months — responsibility for his own actions.”