*Update: Sept. 24, 2020
Officials from six states and the District of Columbia have asked a federal judge to halt what they say are slowdowns at the U.S. Postal Service that threaten the upcoming presidential election. While lawyers for the USPS say no slowdowns were ordered, in court they admitted that the guidance that was issued *might* have been misconstrued. Read more.
For months we have heard simultaneous pleas to both vote by mail and to “Save the Post Office.” There has also been a lot of information - and misinformation - that can make these issues seem confusing and contradictory, but we’ll do our best to explain why both issues are important and need your attention to guarantee a safe and fair election.
PFLAG families, like all families, rely on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and its workforce to keep us connected. Every day, post offices across the country process and deliver letters, food, prescriptions and other supplies. Plus, postal carriers are the designated “last-mile carriers” for private companies, delivering most of the online orders and packages to doorsteps and mailboxes in most of the country. USPS is the world leader in logistics and know-how, and because of this, nearly half of all the mail in all the world is processed by USPS. The efficacy of our mail is what makes vote by mail the safest and most effective way to conduct elections, especially in the midst of pandemic. As states like Oregon, which has voted only by mail for more than 20 years can attest, vote by mail is safe, makes sure more people can vote, and “you can’t hack paper.”
While USPS operates in part like a business, selling stamps and postage materials, it is an independent agency within the federal government.Since its founding in 1775, USPS has never been intended to be a profitable enterprise; it is and has always been an essential service. In fact, until 1971 the Postmaster General was a Cabinet-level position, emphasizing the importance of USPS to the fabric of our democracy.
This past March, Congress allocated $10 billion to USPS to help it continue essential operations during the Covid-19 pandemic. In May, a new Postmaster General was appointed to take over the agency, Louis DeJoy. None of the $10 billion allocated to run USPS during the pandemic has been distributed. In fact, the new Postmaster General DeJoy has announced, instead, that USPS will reduce service and close offices in an effort to reorganize to make USPS more economically stable.
This is problematic for a few reasons. Before his appointment, Postmaster General DeJoy ran the shipping logistics company New Breed Logistics, a competitor with USPS. Also, the monies allocated by Congress were to continue essential operations and ensure USPS did not have to shut down or slow operations in the midst of a pandemic and with an impending national election. Finally, the Secretary of the Treasury held up Congressional funds for four months, to the great detriment of both continuation of essential operations, with the demand that USPS turn over its shipping contracts, which USPS has now done.
The delays and the efforts to close, slow and halt postal services could put safe and fair elections in jeopardy as many voters choose to vote by mail. As Congress and the White House work out the next pandemic stimulus package, which will affect the election, the census, and other essential mail services PFLAGers depend on, we need your support to help save the election, the post office, and our democracy.
Throughout the 90 days leading up to Election Day, PFLAG urges you to take actions to help you prepare and to learn more about how you can help. Visit PFLAG.org/PFLAGVotes2020. We’ll need you, your ideas, and your advocacy efforts to ensure a fair and just election.
NOTE: PFLAG National believes journalists. The vast majority of journalists in the U.S. belong to one or more professional organizations to establish and maintain their credentials. The two big ones are the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. In order to belong, you must follow the code of ethics for each, meaning reliable journalists do not create or publish stories that misrepresent the facts or are otherwise misleading.
Over the Labor Day weekend, the Washington Post and the New York Times both reported that an investigation into campaign finance records found that Postmaster General DeJoy may have used bonuses at his former company New Breed to reimburse employees for their political contributions to the Republican Party. While encouraging employee contributions to any party is not a crime, it is against the law for a company or a political fundraiser to reimburse those activities, as it is a type of money laundering directed at influencing elections. DeJoy had disavowed such allegations in his recent testimony before Congress. The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced an investigation into this allegation and called for the suspension of Postmaster General DeJoy. This is in addition to an investigation by the same committee into the continued slowing of servce of the postal services and alleged elimination of overtime. Read more.
This week, Postmaster General DeJoy announced he would cease removals of blue mailboxes and sorting machines from post offices around the country. Today, in a hearing before the Senate, DeJoy did not commit to returning removed equipment. The hearing can be viewed here. Chairman of the Postal Board of Governors Robert Duncan and DeJoy are scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Monday, Aug. 24. A timeline of the political actions affecting the USPS is here.
Yesterday, the President suggested that he was unwilling to make a deal that included funding for the Postal Service because it would smooth the way for universal mail-in voting during the election this year. Here is the transcript of his remarks.
The President once again raised the issue of vote-by-mail being problematic when compared with absentee voting. Here is a trusted resource with information about vote-by-mail and absentee voting.
Numerous outlets covered this story, some are shared below. (Note: Be sure to review our message regarding journalism and journalistic practices, at the bottom of this blog.)
- Black Press USA
Check out the American Postal Workers Union webpage for more information and actions to take in service of saving the USPS.