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file Picture; Tom Abbott

Full disclaimer, my husband is a USPS worker.

I am sure by now you have heard the claims from the president. Vote by mail, automatic vote by mail, will lead to a fraudulent election. He gives no real reason, but he already admitted that for the service to be able to handle the load they need funds, and he is against that funding. There is more, plants are removing sorters, the kind used to process letters, and would make processing ballots easier. These machines also help process your bills, and the occasional letter, Let’s be clear, the postal service does not handle as many letters as it used to. Packages are king at this point.

These new policies, including barring overtime and letting mail accumulate go against not just the spirit fo the post service, but US Law. Delaying the mail is a felony. Here is the language from the US Code (my bold):

(a)Whoever, being a Postal Service officer or employee, unlawfully secretes, destroys, detains, delays, or opens any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail entrusted to him or which shall come into his possession, and which was intended to be conveyed by mail, or carried or delivered by any carrier or other employee of the Postal Service, or forwarded through or delivered from any post office or station thereof established by authority of the Postmaster General or the Postal Service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(b)Whoever, being a Postal Service officer or employee, improperly detains, delays, or destroys any newspaper, or permits any other person to detain, delay, or destroy the same, or opens, or permits any other person to open, any mail or package of newspapers not directed to the office where he is employed; or

Whoever, without authority, opens, or destroys any mail or package of newspapers not directed to him, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

At this point, there is no doubt that there is intent to do exactly this. The United Staes Post Master General is an officer of the postal service. Why is he doing this? It’s clear that the president is not going to be reelected at this point. There is a lot of evidence of this. States are deciding to use the mail for ballots because of COVID. It is an emergency measure in the midst of the greatest health crisis in a hundred years. Yes, they did meet, even though the president denied it.

They also likely realize that mail-in ballots mean that the usual tactics to suppress the vote, ranging from observers to harassment and challenges at the ballots are not going to work. People will fill their ballot at home, sign their ballot, put in the envelope provided, and send it back.

Word of warning, because of the slowdowns, if your county offers a secured dropbox, USE IT. Do not send your ballot back using the postal service. It’s not because postal employees do not want to deliver your mail. They do. But these barriers will make it harder for them to do their job. This is not accidental, and the administration is playing with political fire.

Who Else is Hurt?

The irony of this is that this will hurt a lot of the GOP voting base in other ways,. This base is concentrated in rural areas and more rural states. Getting the mail to urban centers is somewhat easier, but rural routes will be hurt even worse than urban routes. This means that veterans are already seeing a delay in mail delivery for their medications. Some meds require refrigeration, for example. So how many vets are going to receive insulin that is no longer good?

Small businesses that rely on the service to deliver goods in this pandemic are also going to be hurt. This is according to Vice:

Bryan Tintes used to defend the post office. For the last eight years, he has run a small business based out of Madison, Wisconsin that ships key replacements around the country. His entire business is predicated on fast, reliable service, because people need their key replacements quickly. When he first launched the company in 2013, he used all the major carriers for shipping, but quickly found the United States Postal Service was the best. Not only was it the cheapest service, but it was also the most reliable. Over the years, he structured his entire business around the post office, down to making sure his office is located next to a USPS drop-off location.

But in recent weeks, Tintes can no longer defend the post office. He estimates one in five packages are not reaching their destination on time. And they are not delayed by a day or two like before. Entire batches of packages go missing for weeks inside a USPS distribution facility or are routed to the wrong part of the country. On Monday, Tintes received a package from a customer in Miami sent via priority mail (typical delivery time of 2–3 days) that was three weeks late. Express mail, which used to take a day to get delivered, can now take a week or more.

“Currently, I think my biggest concern is being able to maintain the super fast processing my company is known for,” Tintes wrote. “If we lose the ability to quickly process orders we will lose customers very quickly.”

Given the conflicts of interests that the new postmaster general has, it may be a way to divert services to competitors, They are more expensive, and until these policies were enacted, they were less efficient. This is not accidental, since there’s been an effort to privatize the postal service for a long time. Fun fact, the postal service is written into the constitution. Another fun fact, it has the largest unionized workforce in the country. This is close to half a million Americans, and it is also one of the largest employers of veterans. For decades it has also been one of the most diverse workforces in the nation. This is not something that many libertarians like, and they believe this service is antithetical to the free market. So policies have been imposed to hobble it, and force the privatization.

This is also the most transparent effort in years and if this succeeds, it will hurt rural citizens the most,. The USPS maintains rural routes that are not profitable and its competitors pay it to deliver to. This is why you do not see UPS or FedEx in rural areas too often, It is called last mile, and it is a boom to both the service and companies such as FedEx and UPS, If the service goes away (and forget the constitution), these companies will not deliver to rural areas, So people living in small towns like oh Jacumba or Julian in San Diego will have to drive twenty and thirty miles to get their mail. The cost will also go up. There is more. Support for the postal service is deep and at this point at ninety-four percent of people crossing all political divides.

Clearly, at this point, this is about voter suppression. It is ugly and it is transparent. These are the kinds of measures that you can expect in failed states or third world nations. The president is setting the stage to declare the election null and void. We must be ready tor that. And the attacks on this essential service are part of it.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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