Art by Norah Jankey
“Maybe the other (rejecting funds reserved for universal mail in voting) turns out to be my advantage. I don’t know, I can’t tell you that. But I do know this: I just want an accurate vote.” – Donald Trump, at the James S. Bradley press briefing room.
A single line is enough to give the message that “an accurate vote” is conspicuously not fair.
A Confusing Rationale;
Democratic proposals to provide a stimulus package of 25 billion dollars to the United States Postal Service and 3.6 billion dollars to states to aid in running the elections and streamline the functioning of the post were accepted, even by 26 in House Republicans. In fact support for conducting all elections by mail stood at 52 percent during April of 2020.
Donald Trump, on multiple occasions, has stated the rationale behind his decision was that universal mail voting would increase voting fraud and had quoted the coming election to be “the most corrupt election” in American history. His steady stream of fact checked tweets and counter intuitive arguments have only diminished peoples’ trust in the USPS and the electoral process with little to no gain for trump. Election fraud is a recurring theme in his argument against mail-in Voting.
Won’t Vote by Mail contribute to Election Fraud?
The Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act was introduced back in 2010 and its main objective was to ensure that all citizens had the right to vote by mail in federal elections. Most states allow for both in person and vote by mail, with some restricting voting to almost entirely by mail, like Utah. With the ongoing pandemic reaching yet another peak, it would be devastating to imagine what could have happened had mail in voting had not been permitted for the vast majority of the electorate. Simply put, voting through mail was the safer idea amidst a massive public health crisis. At the time, a number of states like New York, New Hampshire and Tennessee required an influx in order to develop better systems for processing the new votes.
Despite the massive need for expanded mail-in voting, a common misconception against it was its vulnerability to fraud- an uncorroborated claim. A 2017 survey from the Brennan Center for Justice, found that the rate of voter fraud in the United States was somewhere between 0.00004% and 0.0009%. Without a doubt, in mail voting possessed higher risk as compared to in person voting; but fraudulent votes, votes with a faulty barcode or even those which seem they have been mailed on behalf of someone else are sent back or require the voter to follow up on the ballot. There is no evidence that claims voting by mail leads to widespread fraud. Trump cast an absentee ballot in the Florida Republican primary, and when questioned about it he said that the Floridan mail system is, “Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” and criticized Nevada over a similar vote by mail law. But at the end of the day, what matters the most is the health of the citizens. The USPS has the power to validate votes and to separate genuine votes from fake ones, and to exercise better hygiene practices for both in mail and in person voting thus an infusion of money is key to a fraud free and healthy election.
The Vicious Cycle of Loss in USA’s Most Trusted Government Institution
With the money infused and influx of mail to come, there was yet another problem. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had been accused of malpractice; workers reported they were being commanded to leave mail behind if it would delay them on their routine paths and were being told to limit their use of overtime. After much public outcry, a formal inquiry proved his innocence. DeJoy himself said throughout the ordeal that, “(we) deliver all election mail securely and on-time in accordance with our delivery standards, and we will do so.” High Anti Republican sentiments – further set ablaze by the fact DeJoy himself was known to donate to Republican campaigns – may have prompted 6 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against DeJoy for making “policy changes that led to significant delays in mail around the country.” DeJoy told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he would halt any operational changes and cost cutting techniques to avoid any major impact on election mail.
The USPS is USA’s most trusted government institution, with 91 percent of all citizens having a favourable view of it. It plays a vital role in communication around the United States, and millions rely on it. During Christmas, the Postal Service handles upwards of billions of letters, gifts and courier – yet for all its history of efficiency and solvency they have ended 2020 in the red, with a 9.2 billion dollar loss. DeJoy, along with many economists, have warned losses will continue until postal regulators, Congress and the White House will step in to propose sustainable cycles. President-elect Joe Biden promised to eliminate one such vicious cycle; since the last 14 years, the USPS has been obligated to pour millions of dollars in an account for the benefit of future retirees. Biden has assured us the USPS will avail, “emergency relief so it has the resources to continue serving the American people.” But despite this crucial first step, the Postal Service has a long way to go in its recovery from a year riddled with loss.
We know the USPS didn’t collect and count the results in months or even years. They collected 135 million ballots in 2 days in a mind-boggling display of efficiency. Irreplaceable service during these trying times would have been underfunded, or even compromised. With people joining forces to create #savethepost, the USPS, and Joe Biden stand for a lot more than the people and their leader. They stand as a prime example of an healthy and functioning democracy, where the people will always have the freedom to choose who they want to be in power.
Multiple Quotes from @realDonaldTrump Twitter Handle