By Niara Savage
On Friday, former President Barack Obama condemned President Donald Trump for undermining the United States Postal Service, accusing him of suppressing the vote. With the presidential election less than three months away on Nov. 3 and the coronavirus pandemic in full effect, access to mail-in voting has again become a major political point of contention.
“Everyone depends on the USPS. Seniors for their Social Security, veterans for their prescriptions, small businesses trying to keep their doors open,” the former president said on Twitter.
As the United States continues to lead the world in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, Obama accused the Trump administration of being “more concerned with suppressing the vote than suppressing a virus.”
Trump continues to allege that mail-in voting will lead to rampant fraud, while experts say voter fraud is extremely rare. This year, a record number of voters are expected to vote by mail, and Democrats are expected to be more likely to utilize mail-in voting than Republicans.
The USPS has been criticized over major mail delays nationwide over the past few months following significant operational changes made by the new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a businessman who has been a major fundraiser for Trump in the past.
“GOP is naming a political operative with no USPS experience as the Postmaster General right before an election where millions of people will try to vote by mail to save their own lives,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter at the time DeJoy was appointed in May.
Although the Postal Service is facing financial problems, Trump has refused to approve House Democrats’ plan to provide the distressed agency with billions of dollars as a part of a new coronavirus relief package.
Trump appears to have made his approval of House Democrats’ multi-billion dollar USPS funding package a condition for mail-in voting to occur.
“They’re admitting that they want $3.5 billion, and they’re not going to do a deal that’s good for the American people. Therefore, they’re not going to get the $3.5 billion. Therefore, they can’t do the universal mail-in vote,” he said in a Fox Business interview on Wednesday.
“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,” Trump said. “Sort of a crazy thing. Very interesting.”
The Washington Post reported on Friday that the USPS sent letters to 46 states and Washington, D.C., in July, warning that mail-in ballots might be delivered too late to be counted. Meanwhile, reports emerged this past week that at distribution facilities around the nation the USPS recently has begun decommissioning machines needed for sorting the category of mail that includes mail-in ballots, the move coming less than 90 days ahead of the expected surge in votes being cast via mail.