As the 2020 election nears, many Americans are relying on absentee ballots and universal mail-in voting to exercise their right to vote. It makes sense: Many people are apprehensive about turning up to the polls in the middle of a pandemic, and some are spending the upcoming months away from home. That means, the United States Postal Service will play a critical part in this year's election — more than ever before.
The problem: In the last few weeks, USPS mailboxes have been locked up and relocated, postal worker's overtime hours have been cut, and mail-sorting machines have been removed. This is in response to the USPS' growing financial pains that have been worsened by the coronavirus outbreak, which led to a request of $25 billion from the government as part of the second pending COVID-19 relief bill. On Thursday, August 13, President Donald Trump publicly opposed their request, citing that USPS would put this money toward universal mail-in votes.
FYI: Despite the current rhetoric, there is no evidence to suggest that universal mail-in voting is tied to voter fraud. As of right now, there are only a handful of states that plan to move forward with universal mail-in ballots this November, including Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, Washington, California, Nevada, Vermont, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
Even if you put universal mail-in voting aside, it's important to remember that many Americans, particularly those in rural areas with limited access to other delivery services, rely on the USPS to send and receive absentee ballots, prescriptions, and other time sensitive documents.
In a statement published on August 18, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy commented on the growing concerns nationwide, confirming that he will suspend — not reverse — any cost-cutting initiatives until after the election wraps, like the closing of mail processing facilities, changing retail hours, removal of blue collection boxes and mail processing equipment, and overtime eligibility of postal workers.
USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issued the following statement today.— U.S. Postal Service (@USPS) August 18, 2020
But still, the USPS is struggling to survive at a time when the country needs it most. If you're frustrated about what's happening and want to do everything in your power to ensure that your mail-in vote (and the votes of fellow citizens) arrives in time, take a look at all the ways you can help save the USPS right now.
Contact your local representatives.
Track down their phone number or email, and leave them a message about why the USPS — and our democracy — needs the $25 billion it requested. Since Congress is on recess until September 7, email or text is your best bet: Simply text "USPS" to 50409, and a letter will be sent to your local reps urging them to support Rep. Maloney's Delivering for America Act, which "prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to the operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020, until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended."
Participate in Save the Post Office Saturday.
Rally behind your local postal workers at organized demonstrations on Saturday, August 22. A majority of the protests will take place outside post offices around the country, starting at 11 a.m. local time. Sign up here to get more details about your nearest event, or opt to host your own if you're the first to express interest. Then show up with signs of support, encouragement for postal workers, and money to buy stamps or other materials.
Submit your mail-in ballot ASAP.
If you live in one of the states with universal mail-in voting (listed above), fill out your ballot promptly and mail it back ASAP. The same goes for absentee ballots: Request your absentee ballot now (check your state's rules here), and send it by October 22. Although the Postmaster General says there won't be delivery delays in the weeks leading up to the election, there are no guarantees; submitting your vote early is the best way to ensure that your voice gets heard — and counted — in time.
Sign a petition.
Petitions are a quick and easy way to show your support for the cause. Take a few minutes to sign the following petitions:
- Sign the Center for American Progress petition.
- Sign the Change.org petition.
- Sign the Common Cause petition to "Save the U.S. Postal Service."
- Sign the MoveOn petition to "Fully Fund the United States Postal Service."
Buy stamps and other USPS merchandise.
If you have the means to do so, stock up on stamps (you'll have to mail Christmas cards soon!), mailing materials, or merchandise from the postal service's website. They even have adorable kid, toddler, and pet Halloween costumes, if you're still on the hunt for a cute idea for this year.
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