President Donald Trump and his allies might well succeed in undermining the United States Postal Service’s ability to handle an expected surge in mail-in ballots this fall. But the biggest immediate threat to voting by mail isn’t blocked funding.
Trump acknowledged yesterday that he opposes a major stimulus deal with Democrats in part because he wants to stop an infusion of $25 billion to the Postal Service ahead of the election. “They need that money in order for the Post Office to work, to take in these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo. But the president doesn’t want more voting by mail, and he doesn’t want the Postal Service to have any more money to help with it. “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting. That means they can’t have it.”
Democrats see the president’s comments as slam-dunk evidence of what they have been charging for weeks: that Trump is sabotaging the November election by purposely degrading the ostensibly independent Postal Service. They have assailed the appointment as postmaster general of a Trump donor, Louis DeJoy, who has moved rapidly to reorganize the Postal Service’s leadership and institute cost-cutting measures that have already resulted in slower mail delivery. Those service changes, rather than the congressional fight over funding, are what alarm advocates for mail-in voting the most. At stake is nothing less than the integrity of the election itself, which to a large degree rests on whether tens of millions of ballots can get into mailboxes and then back to their precincts in time to count.