Controversial budget cuts at the United States Postal Service are raising concerns about the next stimulus check and the 2020 presidential election. The cost-cutting was enacted by the Postmaster-General, Louis DeJoy, who was chosen for the job by President Donald Trump. According to a report by Gizmodo, some senators are now expressing concerns that the Trump administration welcomes this interference with mail-in ballots.
DeJoy approved a massive overhaul to the USPS' operational structure last month, relying on his 30 years of experience as CEO of a North Carolina-based logistics firm. In an internal memo published by The Washington Post, DeJoy said that mail carriers might "temporarily" allow "mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks," acknowledging that he knows this is "not typical." This flies in the face of one of the USPS's primary purposes — to connect even the most remote parts of the U.S. to the rest of the country, regardless of profit.
In the immediate future, these operational lapses by the USPS could impact the timely delivery of the next stimulus check, which lawmakers are currently negotiating. Looking ahead a few months, however, it could also have a severe impact on mail-in ballots. Many communities have already approved the widespread use of mail-in votes this year to curtail the risk of spreading COVID-19, and more are likely to do the same.
If the USPS cannot be relied on to deliver those ballots, the ripple effects on the election could be hard even to estimate. Meanwhile, the president has made it no secret that he dislikes the idea of mail-in ballots, despite substantial evidence that they are safe and reliable. Absentee voters — including military personnel — have already been using mail-in polls for years.
On Friday, U.S. Senators voiced all of these concerns in a letter to DeJoy. It was cosigned by Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware. It read: "Recent concerns raised by constituents and postal workers have brought to light questionable changes under your leadership now taking place in post offices and processing centers across the nation that may negatively impact mail delivery."
Still, critics have expressed doubt that DeJoy will take these complaints into serious consideration, with many questioning the Postmaster General's trustworthiness altogether. DeJoy was a significant donor for the Trump administration, and his new practices have already led to "days-long backlogs of mail," according to The Washington Post's findings. The new regime is "alarming" to postal workers and union officials, who say it could "undermine their ability to deliver ballots on time for the November elections."