Protect the Post Office, Protect Our Democracy

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Photo by iStockphoto.com/Bill Oxford

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages, and we struggle through an economic recession, the Trump administration is working overtime — but not to solve our country’s problems. No, it’s working feverishly to suppress the vote.

In interviews and on Twitter, Trump won’t stop lying about the reliability of mail-in voting. He’s stirring up racist fears about what might happen if voters of color were allowed to participate in sufficient numbers to swing the election — his twisted way of trying to justify their disenfranchisement.

Working to keep Black, Latinx, and Indigenous voters from making their voices heard is, unfortunately, nothing new. Since they gained the right to vote, voters of color have seen that right undermined in every way reactionaries could think of — from poll taxes and literacy tests to onerous voter ID laws and shuttered polling places in communities of color. Elderly and young people also find themselves the frequent target of voter suppression efforts.

But this year poses additional challenges to voters of every background. Because of the pandemic, voters are increasingly eager to vote-by-mail. But 52 million voters live in states that have refused to expand mail-in voting, despite the risks in-person voting poses. Even when states were willing to expand mail-in voting, many have struggled to cope with the surge in demand for absentee voting — and failed to count or deliver thousands of requested ballots.

Just when we need the postal service the most, the Trump administration installed an unqualified major donor, Louis DeJoy, at its helm. In true Trump administration fashion, he’s working to dismantle a popular institution that’s vital to the functioning of our democracy and the well-being of everyday people.

DeJoy announced sweeping changes to postal service that have resulted in mail delivery delays that sometimes stretch for weeks. He’s even quietly removed mailboxes and mail sorting machines from operation, limiting the postal service’s ability to handle the surge in mail expected on election day. While he’s promised to suspend some of these service changes, it’s not clear that his backtracking will be sufficient to ensure everyone’s ballots are counted. For one thing, he hasn’t said whether he’ll replace the mail processing equipment already taken out of service.

In 32 states, including swing states like Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio, ballots won’t be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day, but arrive afterwards. Any delays in delivering mail could result in thousands of voters being deprived of their right to choose who will lead this country out of a crisis of racial injustice, a pandemic, a recession, and a climate emergency. And delays are what DeJoy has in store for us this November.

It’s clear that DeJoy is not fit to stay in office. He is already failing communities across the country who rely on the postal service for medicine, paychecks, and other lifelines. And he will fail our democracy as a whole come November. Like so many Trump appointees, he didn’t take this job to serve the people. He took it to serve the Trump administration, which admits that its attacks on the postal service are in service of remaining in power. That’s why the Sierra Club is demanding that DeJoy resign.

But whether or not DeJoy resigns, the Trump administration will almost certainly continue to work to suppress the vote. If you’re ready to fight back and make sure that everyone is able to participate in the upcoming election, here’s what you can do.

  • Make sure you’re registered to vote. Now. Really.

And tell your senators to protect the Postal Service and our ability to vote by mail. Because it’s not enough for us to vote: We have to ensure that the infrastructure is in place for everyone to make their voice heard. If we want this country to remain a democracy, we’ll need nothing less.

Dad, husband, executive director of the @sierraclub, writer, Jersey Shore native, Little League coach, #Yankees fan, climate hawk. Optimist. Love the Bay Area.

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