A photo of a USPS mailbox "graveyard" sparked a sober response on social media on Friday, amid reports about the agency's cut-backs. The United States Postal Service has been removing letter collection boxes from several states, according to CNN. While those removals have stopped in many cases, the implications are still not sitting right with many Americans.
Activist organizer Thomas Kennedy shared a photo on Twitter on Friday evening, showing piles of USPS letter collection boxes taken off the street and stacked on top of each other in a fenced-in area. Like many analysts, Kennedy called this an act of voter suppression — due in large part to President Donald Trump's vehement opposition to mail-in voting. He and other pundits suggest that the slashes to the USPS' operations are directly related to Trump's hopes of winning the 2020 presidential election.
Photo taken in Wisconsin. This is happening right before our eyes. They are sabotaging USPS to sabotage vote by mail. This is massive voter suppression and part of their plan to steal the election. pic.twitter.com/QXLWGIHTrz— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) August 15, 2020
"This is happening right before our eyes," Kennedy wrote. "They are sabotaging USPS to sabotage vote by mail. This is massive voter suppression and part of their plan to steal the election."
Kennedy is not alone in coming to this conclusion — everyone from journalists to elected officials to organizers say that the loss of letter collection boxes, the reduced operating hours at post offices and other measures to cut back on postal service in the U.S. is a part of Trump's attempt to win the 2020 election by staunching mail-in voting.
Trump won the 2016 presidential election via the electoral college, securing 304 votes there against Hillary Clinton's 227. However, in terms of the simple popular vote, counting ballots cast by individual Americans, Trump lost by over two percent. Trump has reason to fear that widespread mail-in voting could close this gap, as it would make it easier for Americans to vote when they normally would not — due to busy schedules or difficulty traveling.
Mail-in voting is a long-standing process in the U.S., used for absentee ballots including those used by military personnel. However, Trump has repeatedly attacked the process as unsafe, as more and more states are turning to it for safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. In June, Trump appointed a new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy. A businessman and a major donor to Trump's presidential campaign, DeJoy has demonstrated his interest in seeing the president re-elected in November.
Late on Friday, a spokesperson for the Western region of the USPS told CNN that letter collection boxes would stop being removed immediately due to concerns about the 2020 election. However, another spokesperson at the agency's national headquarters could not confirm this.