Postal Crisis leaves States Scouring for Alternative
By: Leyuan Zhou
With the November election looming near, postal slowdowns and warnings of delayed mail-in ballots created by the pandemic have prompted officials to rethink voting-by-mail strategies. Some Democratic states are looking for a plan B: ballot drop-boxes, curbside voting, and even expanded in-person polling sites.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, voting strategies such as bypassing the post office with ballot drop boxes and drive-throughs are being considered by election officials. However, the Trump administration’s objection to the popular idea of mail-in voting and subsequently the budget cut to the Postal Service has in a way, scared both voters and Democratic officials alike.
Even if the Postal Service is able to process mail-in ballots, the images of sorting machines being removed from facilities, mailboxes taken out or bolted shut on streets, and unsorted packages piling up at mail facilities have roused a fear among voters that may not be placable. As Democratic leaders in Washington are fighting to regain funding for the Postal Service, a plan B is currently being devised.
On Monday, House Democrats continued to plan for a vote on legislation this coming Saturday that could potentially revoke the current fund cuts of the Postal Service, and hopefully inject $25 billion of emergency aid back into the service.
The new heat from the current circumstances has certainly burned some Senate Republicans who were hoping for a re-election. The pressure for them to make a decision and to do anything the president is not in favor of not only comes from the Democratic Party in Washington, but also from the irate voters who are still awaiting the delivery of their medicine, supplies, and other packages, all of which rely on the post office.
As for the president, he spent the past weeks lamenting on Twitter about how a mail-in ballot would “rig” the election. On Monday, he began questioning the drop boxes. “Some states use ‘drop boxes’ for the collection of Universal Mail-In Ballots. So who is going to ‘collect’ the Ballots, and what might be done to them prior to tabulation?” he tweeted. “A Rigged Election? So bad for our Country.”
Drop boxes, one of the proposed alternatives, have proved to be popular in the recent weeks. New Jersey, a Democratic-run state, announced on Friday that it would add at least 105 more drop boxes across the state in anticipation of the general election. Even officials in Louisiana, a generally Republican state, proposed curbside drop-off options for absentee ballots, albeit the secretary of state sought to limit vote-by-mail options. However, in Ohio, the Republican secretary of state stated that he is only allowed to place one drop-off location per county.
With the new upheaval over the postal system, the Trump administration has taken action to attempt to suppress its effectiveness. The campaign sued Pennsylvania, a state that widely used mail ballot drop boxes during the June primary, threatening to bar its November voting with claims of drop boxes “exponentially enhancing” the threat of fraud.
The new form of voting is forcing states to drastically increase their voter education program in the hopes of informing concerned voters. In Washington, the secretary of state’s office will be using social media and radio advertising during the month prior to the election in order to teach voters the basic information they need when casting their vote this November.