President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the United States Postal Service (USPS) and constant claims of mail-in voter fraud have even non-politically minded people thinking: “What is the end game here?”
While his bashing of the postal service is fairly new, Trump’s claims of voter fraud goes way back when he first ran for office. In just this year alone, trackers claim Trump has made 91 attacks on the elections process. Added to that, he’s filed lawsuits in three states, claiming irregularities in mail-in ballots.
He’s already said, “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that mailIn ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mailboxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged and even illegally printed out and fraudulently signed….” He added that “with Gov. Gavin Newsom of California sending ballots to all active registered voters, which he terms universal mail-in voting, this will be a rigged election. No way!”
There is no basis for such a claim, and it’s the first time for any modern president to be doubting the integrity of our election system. The whole political drama is a playbook typically seen in authoritarian regimes whose leaders often use alleged fraud to hold onto power.
Months ago when Postmaster General Louis Dejoy was appointed — who is a big-time Trump donor and an appointee for the first time in history not chosen from the ranks of the Postal Service – some political experts were saying a seed to disrupt mail-in voting could be in play.
Now as the General Election nears, the trigger has been pulled. Dejoy has made major management shifts and replacements and imposed new operational procedures – all in the name of saving money and running the USPS more efficiently.
*671 automated mail sorters (more than 10 percent of total) have been removed from operation throughout the country. Some of these machines can sort more than 300,000 mail per day.
*The number of workers operating each automated mail sorters have also been reduced for those that are still in use. Many of the targeted machines shut down are from swing states like Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas – and obviously not by a coincidence.
*Many mail collection boxes have been removed throughout cities.
*The entire USPS Board of Governors are now all Trump appointees.
The result: slower mail delivery; and at a time that primary elections are being held and the general elections is just around the corner.
Adding to the chaos, Trump is resisting critical funding to the USPS that Congress wants to pass in order to keep the organization solvent from the losses it has incurred from the pandemic.
The President said of the needed funding, “Now they need that money in order to have the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots …. But 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.”
Of late and due to widespread pressure, Postmaster General DeJoy has said cuts to service in mail delivery will be suspended until after the election season.
But at the same time, he’s also testified before Congress that the more than 600 mail sorting machines that were removed will not be reinstalled. Talk about contradictory statements.
USPS union leaders also have said the deep changes already made cannot be undone so quickly to resume operations as it was before restructuring.
Why the sudden need for massive Postal Service reform so close to the General Election? Could there be a tactical reason? Experts already know that Democrats are more likely to vote by mail as they have had higher rates of absentee voting; while Republicans traditionally vote in person at higher percentages. Connect the dots.
Is there a looming crisis ahead?
Experts say there could be various ways to interpret Trump’s incessant claims of fraud.
First and the most dangerous of them is that Trump is attempting to delegitimize mailin voting so that if he should lose the election; he could contest the results.
Another explanation, more benign, is that Trump is using elections fraud as a possible excuse to soften a blow to his ego; and that he would accept the outcome.
Another theory floated around is Trump is sowing chaos to strike fear into traditionally non-voters to stay away from voting for a first time. The reason: first-time voters are more likely to vote against the incumbent – that’s usually the rule of thumb.
Of consideration also is that administrations mired in legal controversy and especially a president who has been impeached as Trump has, perhaps, have extra incentive to hold on to power to avoid possible prosecution. Besides the multiple past scandals that could be investigated should Trump lose, add to that possible charges of interference of mail operations and elections. Both are illegal activities.
Historically this has been the pattern of strongman leaders, break the law, then do anything and everything to hold on to power or face the reality of going to jail when losing.
No compelling evidence of historical voting fraud
Remember after the 2016 election, Trump had lost the popular vote so he set up a commission to investigate voter fraud. After two years, the commission found no anomalies and it was disbanded.
In a study investigating a 12- year period of voting in which voters cast over a billion ballots, fewer than 500 cases nationwide were prosecuted. That’s a statistically insignificant number to be claiming that widespread voter fraud is a common occurrence. And none of those prosecuted cases would have changed the election outcome.
Everyone wants a fair election
Calling for fair elections is something every politician wants. Other politicians besides Trump do the same. But making up that a widespread crisis exists is pure fantasy. Americans have legitimate reasons to be suspicious of the President with the direction he is going. 2020 has already been a disastrous year. The last thing Americans need is even more instability.
Elections officials be prepared. Americans be prepared to not only vote, but ensure that the Constitution is upheld postelection.