As the storm clouds gather over Donald Trump’s reelection bid, GOP efforts to undermine voting by mail and Americans’ perceptions of election integrity have reached full tilt.
Trump’s repeated attacks on the Postal Service and mail-in ballots aren’t mere words. The GOP donor and postmaster general he installed, Louis DeJoy, has implemented policies that have led to “days-long backlogs of mail across the country,” according to The Washington Post.
The backlog is particularly convenient for Trump, who has recently gone on an extended jag over the election being “fixed” and “rigged” due to mail-in balloting, which he bafflingly distinguishes from absentee voting. Experts say there’s no difference, and his own intelligence officials completely contradict his fraud claims. Since late March, the Post reports that Trump has attacked mail voting nearly 70 times.
After Trump’s Thursday morning tweet about delaying the election met with quite a bit of pushback, even from the right, he offered a new/meaningless standard later that day: “Must know Election results on the night of the Election, not days, months, or even years later!” Yeah, that’s not in the Constitution, it’s just a product of Trump’s addled brain.
Trump was back at it Friday, telling reporters: “This is going to be the greatest election disaster in history,” and even suggesting Russia and China could “forge ballots.”
DeJoy, who has donated more than $2 million to Republican political committees over the past four years, approved what were framed as “cost-cutting” measures in mid-July. Those policies curtailed overtime pay, shortened operation time for sorting machines, and mandated that postal carriers leave behind any mail not already sorted and prepared for their route.
These supposed cost-savers have undermined efficiency, resulting in days-long delays in mail delivery in some areas of the country. Worse yet, the prohibition on overtime work means those delays only grow over time, exacerbating the slowdown right as millions of Americans prepare to start mailing in their ballots in September.
“I’m actually terrified to see election season under the new procedure,” Lori Cash, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 183 in Western New York, told the Post.
Postal worker representatives have also relayed their concerns directly to DeJoy. Mark Dimondstein, president of the APWU, stressed to DeJoy in a Thursday meeting that the new policies are hurting both customer service and the Postal Service itself. “I vehemently weighed in that this is wrong,” he said, adding that it’s “wrong for the people of the country” and it’s driving away business and revenue.
DeJoy reportedly responded that he’s committed to voting-by-mail.
But based on his actions, DeJoy appears far more committed to helping Trump either eke out a narrow win, or else undermine confidence in the election’s outcome, particularly among his conspiracy-loving base.