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Donald Trump is doing everything he can to kneecap the U.S. Postal Service, and the American Postal Workers Union wants to be sure everyone knows how high the stakes are. The Postal Service is not just responsible for prescriptions and letters from grandparents during a pandemic and basically every damn thing people in rural areas need shipped to them; American democracy itself is at stake.
With coronavirus likely to still be a major concern in many states come November—thanks, Trump!—more people than ever will be voting by mail. But in California, where voting by mail is already an established practice, more than 100,000 ballots in the March primary were rejected because they weren’t postmarked in time. “We are very concerned, and we want the public to be aware,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein warned, pointing to the possibility of bigger problems in November.
In Virginia, as many as 5% of ballots were rejected because they were postmarked too late. The Postal Service needs the resources to process these ballots quickly enough to get them counted, but Trump—who has made his fear and loathing of mail voting more than clear—wants the opposite.
Reports are spreading that Trump’s new postmaster general is issuing direct orders that would slow down the mail, while in at least one state, postal workers say their state postmaster is going even further to create delays. This all comes against a backdrop of Trump saying things like “The Postal Service is a joke” and making clear that he thinks voting by mail would make him lose in November.
Trump’s hatred of the Postal Service isn’t just about vote by mail, though, and it isn’t just Trump. The Republican Party has long wanted to destroy the USPS for multiple reasons, chief among them that it’s an example of government working well for even the little people (and wildly popular as a result) and that postal jobs have been a critical part of building a Black middle class in the U.S. for generations. Republicans—with too little pushback from most Democrats, it must be said—badly weakened the USPS. Coronavirus has been a major blow, and instead of helping to boost this incredibly important public good, congressional Republicans have followed Trump in blocking aid. That they can weaken safe access to the vote in November is just a bonus to the Republican way of thinking.