OPINION: Trump’s inaction on the USPS crisis should concern everyone


Tribune News Service

Postal workers hold signs as U.S. Rep. Val Demings speaks at a post office at Kirkman Road in Orlando on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Jacob Sawyer, Staff Writer

Over the past few decades, technology has evolved at an unprecedented pace and many tasks that used to only be possible via mail, such as sending a letter to a loved one or paying bills, can now be completed quickly online. The internet also helps protect the environment by saving all that paper. Add the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic into the picture, and suddenly we are sitting behind computer screens more than ever before. 

All of these advancements and adaptations may seem like “snail mail” or the United States Postal Service (USPS) is beginning to grow obsolete.  

Not so fast.  

Due to COVID-19, as well as the upcoming presidential election, the postal service will be critical in ensuring what will likely be a record number of mail-in and absentee ballots are counted in time. Some people even depend on timely postal service to get life-changing medications. But the sad reality is that many of these ballots may not be counted in time, leading to voter disenfranchisement. The USPS has warned nearly every state about the issue. 

Unfortunately, the USPS is no stranger to crisis and uncertainty. They have been losing billions of dollars annually since 2007, just before the start of the Great Recession. Losses since that year total over $80 billion. But that does not mean that action is futile; in fact, President Donald Trump is actively refusing to fund the USPS due to paranoia over voter fraud and an inability to compromise with Democrats on a second coronavirus stimulus package. Meanwhile, he wants to fund a new FBI headquarters. 

Trump has claimed for months that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud. While this practice does occur, it occurs extremely rarely, with less than one ballot out of every 100,000 (.0009%) and as few as one in 2.5 million (.00004%) being fraudulent. Moreover, mail-in and absentee voting has become more accepted even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and Trump even sent in a ballot remotely during Florida’s 2016 primaries and recently requested one for the 2020 general election. Overall, the commander-in-chief’s fears of voter fraud are exactly that  fears. 

Adding even more suspicion to these questionable claims is the partisan divide regarding mail-in voting. Democrats are more than twice as likely to send in their ballots as their conservative counterparts, who are only 20% likely to do so. Overall, about one-in-three voters are planning to vote by mail. If we assume that exactly half of all eligible Americans will vote, which amounts to 92 million, and that a third of the 92 million will vote by mail, then we have as many as 31 million ballots at risk of going unaccounted for. 

While not every one of those ballots will get lost in the bowels of the USPS, it is safe to assume that at least a few million, if not several million, could not be counted. Believe it or not, those votes could prevent Biden from winning and subsequently healing all of Trump’s wounds, including his botched responses to both the coronavirus and protests against racial injustice. 

In fact, the popular vote difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was only about 3 million. While that comparison is a bit flawed because Trump lost the popular vote but ultimately won due to the electoral college, it goes to show that U.S. presidential elections can get really, really close. While the USPS has announced that it is suspending its cost-cutting measures like removing mailboxes through Election Day, the threat of excessive delays remains real and could derail millions of ballots. 

The Trump administration is grossly and wantonly neglecting the USPS’s long years of plighteven as the service is all the more critical amid the unprecedented combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and upcoming election. His allegations of voter fraud are almost completely false, and hindering mail-in voting will create massive voter disenfranchisement and rig the election in favor of him. In order to save the election, we need to save the USPS, and now.