Mail-in Voting Controversy Deepens as USPS Becomes Focal Point for Congress

August 5, 2020 Updated: August 6, 2020

Over a hundred members of Congress sent a letter to congressional leaders requesting that funding for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) be included in the pandemic relief package currently being negotiated.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), chair of the House Government Operations Subcommittee, led 129 other House members to urge Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to fully fund the USPS and ensure it can meet states’ needs in delivering mail-in ballots.

“As negotiations over phase 4 COVID-19 relief legislation continue, we urge you to continue to include strong support for the United States Postal Service (USPS) in any final relief legislation,” the Congress members wrote in a letter.

States throughout the union are expanding access to mail-in voting in an effort to reduce the spread of the CCP virus, which has led to growing concerns that inadequate postal service could extend vote counting for days or weeks after Election Day.

“Millions of Americans across the country rely on the Postal Service for the delivery of essential items, including life-saving medications, census forms, and mail-in ballots,” Maloney said.

She criticized the Trump administration for not prioritizing funding for the USPS.

“Congress must ensure that the next stimulus package includes provisions to protect the Postal Service and maintain the mail service that is essential to Americans across the country,” she said.

There are concerns that ballots that are missing or late, will lead to legal actions against states that have widespread mail-in voting.

President Donald Trump has criticized widespread mail-in ballot initiatives, calling them corrupt. He told Axios that mail-in voting could significantly delay election results.

“We went through World War I, you went to the polls, you voted. We went through World War II, you went to the polls, you voted. And now because of the China virus, we’re supposed to stay home, send millions of ballots all over the country, millions and millions,” Trump said in an interview with Axios. “You know, you could have a case where this election won’t be decided on the evening of Nov. 3. This election could be decided two months later.”

Trump and other Republicans have said mail-in voting could lead to ballot harvesting, allowing for dead people to vote, or allowing for people who have moved to fraudulently vote, as well as ballots being lost in the mail.

However, Democrats say mail-in voting is secure as long as the USPS is adequately funded.

“The United States Postal Service will play a critical role in facilitating a safe, secure vote-by-mail election in November. We must fully fund @USPS and call out this administration’s attempts to dismantle it for what they are: voter suppression,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

During a White House press event at the end of April with industry executives about opening the economy after lockdowns, Trump said big companies should pay more for the USPS services to help maintain the quality, not the taxpayers.

“No, we want to stabilize the post office, and the way you do that is these companies are going to have to pay more, not the people.  We’re not looking for the people to pay.  But the companies are going to have to pay a percentage of that—that loss.  You can’t do that.  The government shouldn’t have to do it.  I think the post office could—wouldn’t it be great if it could, after so many decades, break-even,” Trump said.

USPS and the Department of Treasury reached a deal at the end of July, which gives the service a loan of up to $10 billion, but only if it’s needed.

The loan comes through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill signed by President Donald Trump in late March to provide relief amid harsh restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the letter House Democrats, said despite the emergency funding from the treasury and elsewhere they still have significant concerns about the USPS having the money it needs to fully handle mail-in voting if it is employed broadly across the nation.

They pointed to the newly appointed, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s cost-cutting that prevents employees from working overtime, which they say has affected the timely delivery of mail.

“Congress must mandate that USPS return to operation standards as they were on June 14, 2020, immediately prior to Louis DeJoy joining USPS,” they wrote.

More recently, Trump said he supports mail-in ballots in states that have the proper infrastructure for a mail-in voting system.

Trump wrote on Wednesday: “Nevada has ZERO infrastructure for Mail-In Voting. It will be a corrupt disaster if not ended by the Courts. It will take months, or years, to figure out. Florida has built a great infrastructure, over the years, with two great Republican Governors. Florida, send in your Ballots!”

Meanwhile, Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, the president of the U.S. Vote Foundation, told The Hill: “The ability of the USPS to function knows no party, you can’t tell if the ballot is Republican or Democrat when it’s in an envelope.

“We believe this is a bipartisan issue of great concern.”