(CNN Newsource/WBTW) – As our nation faces historic crises, another potential one looms; the United States Postal Service recently told congress it will be out of money by September if it does not receive $75 billion in emergency funding.
This is also just as millions of Americans are expected to use mail-in ballots to cast their votes in November’s elections.
“If the funding doesn’t come through, everything we do, including vote by mail, will be much harder,” Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union said.
He says underfunding the US Postal Service could affect access to vote by mail.
Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias says that could significantly impact elections.
“There are a lot of alarm bells right now in America, but this is a critical one, because the fact is if we can’t have reliable mail service, then we’re not going to have reliable democracy in the fall,” Elias said.
But it’s not just democrats who are concerned about USPS funding. Washington secretary of state Kim Wyman, a republican, runs the state’s elections which are entirely vote by mail.
“The postal service is the linchpin to all of this working in November,” Wyman said. “We have states that see 2 % of their ballots cast by absentee ballot in a regular election, and they’re going to see an increase anywhere from 20-25 % to 60 or 70 % of their ballots returned by mail. It’s essential that the post office is able to deal with that increased volume.”
Elias agrees an underfunded postal service could become a chokehold on the ability to process mail-in ballots.
“We are on a collision course in the fall because the president is forcing us on a collision course,” Elias said. “It’s important to keep in mind that the postal service should be funded and it should not be politicized.”
President trump, who has voted by mail during his time in the white house, has taken aim at the practice, citing a number of unsupported conspiracy theories in recent months including tweeting, mail in voting has quote “tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for republicans.”
Trump has often chastised the postal service. His administration blocked additional funding for the postal service in the cares act instead offering $10 billion in loans but demanded “reforms” as a condition.
The president threatened to withhold any necessary funding if the USPS does not meet his demands to increase its prices.
“If they don’t raise the price, I’m not signing anything,” Trump said.
Meantime, as the USPS faces a dire financial future, its board of governors is now filled entirely with trump allies. All of its members are trump appointees.
Today Louis Dejoy, a former republican fundraiser and trump supporter, will become the new postmaster general.
“The postal board of governors has tremendous influence in terms of the speed of the mail, the service, keeping post offices open,” Dimondstein said.
Dimondstein says the union is hopeful the new leadership will strengthen the postal service not try to hamper or privatize it, but says ultimately time will tell.
“For the people of this country, it’s not a political partisan issue, and we should not allow Washington to allow it to become one,” Dimondstein said.
The postal service estimates its losses will continue for as long as the pandemic lasts.
It is estimated that coronavirus will substantially increase the postal service’s net operating loss over at least the next 18 months.
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