We have all heard a lot about the US Postal Service (USPS) lately.
Contrary to what some say or imply, there is no underhanded or backdoor plot to subvert the postal service. There is no secret effort to prevent the processing of mail-in or absentee ballots, or any other activity designed to disrupt the election. The postal service does have long-term funding challenges, and there are legitimate concerns about its future viability. Over the years, from time to time, Congress has stepped in to help the Postal Service out. In other words, these underlying issues have been around for years – long before President Trump took office.
Here are the facts:
- By its own analysis the USPS has adequate funding through at least late next year, long after the elections this coming Fall. It currently has $14 billion cash on hand and has access to a $10 billion loan from the Treasury if it is needed thanks to a provision included in the CARES Act that Congress passed earlier this year. Again, it is sitting on $14 billion cash on hand — far more than enough to handle any increase in the volume of mail, even if it spikes by more than 100%, which is an impossibility. The Postal Service currently handles more than a billion pieces of mail each month.
- The USPS has more than enough capacity to handle absentee ballots and mass mail-in ballots should a state adopt that as a method for voting. Even if all 330 million Americans choose to vote (which has never happened, by the way) by mail over the course of the next two and a half months, it is still a fraction of the volume of mail the USPS handles.
- You may have also heard about mass removals of postboxes from streets. Like any large organization, the USPS regularly relocates, renovates and revamps equipment and infrastructure to suit customer needs. Post boxes are regularly installed and removed as populations shift around the country and consumer demand changes. In fact, the Obama-Biden Administration removed more than 14,000 mailboxes according to the USPS Inspector General.
- The Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, was unanimously approved by a bipartisan board of governors. To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, he announced earlier this week that the USPS would end any routine removals or relocations of post boxes until after the election. “Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are,” he said.
- The Postal Service has also taken great care to ensure it can process absentee ballots in a timely way, warning several states that their mail-in voting cutoff dates were too close to Election Day to be delivered in time. For example, in Minnesota, voters may now request a mail-in ballot the day before Election Day. That’s not a USPS problem – that’s a state legislature putting completely unreasonable demands on the postal service.
- Ruth Goldway, a Democrat appointed by Bill Clinton to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, recently wrote “I served as a regulator of the Postal Service for nearly 18 years under three presidents and I urge everyone to be calm. Don’t fall prey to the alarmists on both sides of this debate. The Postal Service is not incapacitated. It is still fully capable of delivering the mail.” She said flatly the USPS “is perfectly capable of handling election mail."
In spite of these facts, Speaker Pelosi has called us back to vote this Saturday on a “USPS rescue” bill. The bill will go nowhere in the Senate because it is a hoax, and just another example of wasted time.
Rather than having a political vote, we should be voting on more funding for PPP to help the small businesses that have never been allowed to reopen, those which have only been allowed to partially reopen, and those that have seen significant shortfalls in their gross revenues as a result of COVID. That would make a lot more sense.
And one last thing: I’ve noticed that some are confused about mail-in voting. This is different from absentee voting even though you do mail-in an absentee ballot. When you hear the term “mail-in” it is in regards to a state choosing to mass mail ballots to every registered voter without being requested. Absentee ballots, on the other hand, must be requested by the voter and they typically can be requested for any reason.
Each respective state has their own laws related to voting, which is how it should be for a variety of reasons that I will not get into here. There has been no bill passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President that establishes mail-in voting. A bill passed the U.S. House with all Democrat votes to do that (which yours truly voted against), but it is dead as a doornail in the U.S. Senate.