What’s Happening to the USPS?

For two hundred and forty-five years, the United States Postal Service has served the people of the United States. It boasts high approval ratings and delivers nearly half of all mail in the world each year. The USPS is also the only mail carrier that will deliver anywhere— even to the most rural homes. Under the Constitution and federal law, Americans are entitled to mail service. Many left-wing politicians claim the USPS has been under attack by conservatives for years. For over three decades, it has relied solely on postal product sales and has received no federal funding. Now, with the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, it may be under more threat than ever before. 

In the past several weeks, photos of trucks loaded with classic blue USPS mailboxes have gone viral, sparking conversation about voter suppression on social media. The photos were paired with captions claiming the mailboxes were being discarded in order to impede mail-in voting. Although some of the most viral tweets have since been debunked by fact-checkers, politicians and everyday people alike are calling for the preservation of USPS and its widely appreciated services. With COVID-19 continuing to spread in many states, including California, the upcoming election expects a tsunami of absentee and mail-in ballots. But the USPS has taken quite a financial hit in recent months, due to both the pandemic and the Trump presidency. For years now, Trump has claimed mail-in voting leads to high rates of voter fraud, and without evidence. However, research suggests that his claims are far from the truth and that less than one percent of mail-in ballots are fraudulent. Nonetheless, President Trump has openly discussed plans to slow USPS operations and absentee voting. 

Mail delivery has already been delayed by days, sometimes weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Cost cuts and rise in cases mean delivery workers are at risk for pay cuts or losing their jobs completely. The USPS is one of the largest employers of veterans in the US, many of whom would otherwise struggle to find employment upon returning home. Many such veterans and other elderly people rely on USPS for social security checks and medication in more rural areas. Veterans’ organizations on Facebook and Twitter have spoken out in favor of mail-service support bills. In recent months, democratic members of congress have sought emergency funding and voting support in preparation for November. According to the Washington Post, President Trump is against the “$25 billion emergency injection sought by the U.S. Postal Service, as well as a Democratic proposal to provide $3.6 billion in additional election funding to the states.” In a televised interview, the president also reportedly said, “if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money…that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.” Many have called his remarks a blatant confession to voter suppression. Trump’s withholding of funds and active efforts at hindering democratic endeavors to expand mail-in voting could mean more delays, historically long lines, and widespread voter disenfranchisement for this year’s election. On August 13, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), which represents more than three hundred thousand USPS postal workers, openly endorsed democratic presidential nominees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. NALC president Frederic Rolando warns in the statement that “this pandemic threatens the very survival of the USPS.”