Trump’s paranoia over potentially losing the 2020 presidential election has become so extreme that he’s been working for months to sabotage Americans’ ability to vote by mail. And despite his Twitter crusade against the USPS, we’re only now beginning to see the effects of the work his administration has done.
Before we delve into the full timeline of everything that’s gone down with the USPS, here are a few quick reminders: There’s no proof of widespread voter fraud with the vote-by-mail process. There’s also no evidence that voting by mail gives one political party more of an advantage. And lastly, prior to this year, five states had already conducted elections entirely by mail with no problems.
Now let’s get to it.
Louis DeJoy is named Postmaster General by the Postal Service’s board of governors, who are appointed by the president. Fun fact: DeJoy is the first postmaster general in two decades who did not have a career as a postal employee.
Before being appointed, DeJoy was a prominent Republican and Trump donor. He also had considerable investments in companies that either compete or do business with the USPS.
DeJoy implemented sweeping organizational changes due to the USPS’s unprofitability. FYI: The USPS hasn’t been profitable in decades. It’s a public service, not a corporation, so profit isn’t its primary objective.
So, what were the changes? Here are a few:
1. Eliminated overtime for hundreds of thousands of USPS workers
2. Mandated that mail is to be kept until the next day if distribution centers are running behind, which they are because, you know, the global pandemic
3. Drastically restructure the organization by removing or reassigning over two dozen employees in leadership roles, including two top execs in charge of day-to-day operations
All of these changes have already resulted in mail delays during a time when Americans are more reliant than ever on mail services for stimulus and unemployment checks, medications, and, of course, mail-in ballots.
August 6, 2020
Over 80 House Representatives penned a letter to DeJoy citing concerns that recent operational changes would cause significant delays in the mail, which was especially concerning ahead of the upcoming election.
August 7, 2020
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with several other Democratic lawmakers, requested an inquiry be launched by the Inspector General into DeJoy regarding the policy changes he implemented and whether he had met all of the ethics requirements. Why ethics? Because DeJoy and his wife have between $30 million to $75 million in assets that are direct competitors with the U.S. Postal Service. Super casual and not at all a conflict, right?
August 10, 2020
DeJoy acknowledged internally in a memo to USPS employees that his recent changes have “unintended consequences” but described them as necessary.
August 12, 2020
A letter signed by 171 Democrat lawmakers demands that the USPS reverse the operational changes that will negatively impact mail-in voting.
August 13, 2020
Trump went on-air with Fox Business to confirm that he’s withholding funding to the USPS to prevent universal mail-in voting. He said,
“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”
On the same day, news broke that 671 mail sorting machines — the same machines that would sort mail-in ballots — were marked for “reduction” this year. Machines are actively being deactivated and removed from USPS facilities with no official explanation. The USPS has also begun removing letter collection boxes in at least four states and notifying postal workers in another three states they will begin reducing their retail operating hours.
A spokesperson for the USPS claimed that this was all routine.
August 14, 2020
It was confirmed that the Inspector General is actively reviewing the policy changes made by DeJoy and his compliance with federal ethics rules. Letters released show the USPS warned almost all 50 states and Washington D.C. that there was a significant likelihood that voters would be at risk of not having their ballots returned to elections offices in time because local election deadlines aren’t compatible with the current time needed for the delivery and return of mail-in ballots.