The Post Office: A Bulwark of Democracy
In the past few weeks, controversial changes at the United States Postal Service by Trump appointee Louis DeJoy have raised concerns about the democratic process, especially considering that these changes are happening right before a presidential election. The Post Office has been removing mailboxes and mail sorting machines, while also cancelling overtime for postal workers. The question is this: will these changes affect the democratic legitimacy of the upcoming election?
Many of our states are simply so big that the average voter would have to drive a considerable distance to vote if voting in person was the only option available. This is especially true now that states such as Kentucky have drastically cut down on the number of polling places. Voting by mail makes it much easier for many people to vote at all, and that increases the percentage of the population that participates in the democratic process. According to Pew Research, 65% of Americans support no-excuse absentee voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so voting by mail is likely to be a more popular option than ever.
When the USPS removes mailboxes, discards mail sorting machines, and cancels overtime for postal employees, it stands to reason that the mail will move more slowly. If record numbers of people vote by absentee ballot – which seems almost certain – then it also stands to reason that the USPS will have trouble collecting all those ballots.
President Trump seems to be perfectly aware of this. In his own words, he is opposed to more Post Office funding because, “they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting”.
If the President doesn’t want to fund the Post Office because that would lead to too many people voting, then it’s obvious that a functioning post office is essential to American democracy. For the presidential election to have democratic legitimacy, we must be able to count on the Post Office.