There aren’t too many amendments in the Constitution about limiting voter fraud (actually none… there are none), but there are a some (see 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th) regarding Americans’ right to vote that were earned in blood. With this in mind, what’s left of my patriotism has to bet hard on disenfranchisement being a much more anti-American practice than fraud, which is as popular in white-collar America as cocaine and business retreats full of married men to places where prostitution just so happens to be legal.
In addition to being “worse than fraud,” I would also opine that disenfranchisement is exactly what the GOP (or at least Trump) is aiming to achieve with their barrage of propaganda against mail-in voting. The key players in the GOP, like Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, have also been making the political moves to indicate an attempt at limiting voters in the November election. And who can blame them? The Democrats’ favorite thing to do after the Trump victory in 2016 was to point a “not-uh!” finger at the popular vote which, in their defense was won by almost 3 million votes — something that Trump (now, very ironically) blamed on illegal in-person voting from those who voted for Clinton — but in this fine country, the popular vote doesn’t make you the president and I personally thought the Dems should focus more on correcting their own “not that progressive” flaws than the flaws of the electoral college (to see if they did correct any of their “not that progressive” flaws, Google Joe Biden), but I digress.
In 2016, as well as many other times in U.S. history, swing states that voted red are the reasons that Donald Trump won the election without the popular vote, and early polling that projected left victories in these swing states most certainly led to Trump’s attack on mail-in voting. According to a report from NBC News, the number of absentee mail-in ballots being requested in North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania shows “significantly more requests [for ballots] have been made by registered Democrats than Republicans.” With that in mind, it’s no surprise why the Republicans in power have been trying to devalue and demonize mail-in voting, even though we are still very much fighting COVID-19, and avoiding packed polling places should be a bipartisan initiative for the good of the American people.
Here is the game the Republicans are playing:
Though lacking any factual evidence to back their claims, many prominent Republicans are not being shy about telling people that mail-in voting will result in fraudulent practices, and during the primaries over the last couple of months, they went as far as taking executive action against mail-in voting to require everyone to wait in long, not-so-socially-distanced lines in order to cast their votes.
As a country, we deem it safe to mail in our passports and identifications for renewal, our college diplomas, a swarth of stimulus checks that totaled more than $100 billion, and even good ol’ guns (albeit with some heavy paperwork). The one thing that makes a democracy a democracy, however, has been deemed dangerous and able to be stolen or altered by the Trump Administration.
Covert Dealings and the USPS
The new U.S. Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, may not have any history in the postal service, but he did donate millions of dollars to the ongoing Trump Rally Fund (more commonly known as his fundraising campaign), making him a sterling candidate in keeping with Trump’s other appointees.
And this is where it gets really interesting.
Shortly after DeJoy was given his position, second in command, Deputy Postmaster Ron Stroman resigned, with speculation that he was being pushed to do so, or at least felt he had no more voice with DeJoy at the helm. Stroman had held the position since 2011, following a hefty stint as the Director of the US Commission on Civil Rights. In addition to being a voice for Civil Rights, Stroman was also an advocate for mail-in voting, long before it became a popular news story. Anyone with a TV knows that Trump is certainly not an outspoken advocate for civil rights, nor mail-in voting, so the resignation of Stroman was at best welcomed, and at worst, forced with ill-intention relative to his past as a Civil Rights leader.
The National Association of Letter Carriers publicly thanked Stroman for his “exceptional service during time of crisis,” and DeJoy’s predecessor, Megan Brennan wrote a memo praising Stroman, specifically for his “relationship-building with Congress and… his efforts to educate postal stakeholders as we developed a framework for postal reform legislation.”
Much of that legislation involved mail-in voting reform, well before 2020.
With a pistol to my head, I couldn’t force the phrase “Trump is a smart man” out of my mouth, but some people who surround him have some devilish intelligence far beyond my own, and this gutting of the USPS and all its executives who supported mail-in voting sure comes at a good time alongside his attacks on the integrity of mail-in voting that, according to polls, will benefit Democrats.
One of the leading arguments against the United States Postal Service (remember that last word) is that it is a failing business, and in all his flaws, Trump sure does know a lot about failing businesses. However, the USPS is not a business, it is a publicly funded service that aims to enrich American lives just like water filtration, schools, or (arguably) the DMV. Public services don’t exist to turn a profit, and Trump’s attacks on the “business” of the Postal Service are, simply put, founded in his own idiocy and nothing concrete.
The administration used these “business failures” as reasons to pause funding for the USPS, but it seems pretty damn apparent, given the timing and speculation that mail-in voting will help Democrats, that the attack on the Postal Service is a glaring attempt to prevent Americans (especially ones voting blue) from playing their part in democracy, come November.
In an ideal world, common sense and pride in a country’s will to be “by the people and for the people” would prevail, meaning mail-in voting would not only be allowed, but encouraged, given the coronavirus. Unfortunately, we are talking about the United States of America in 2020, and common sense and patriotism don’t seem to weigh very heavily on any decisions coming from the top.
Many organizations are leading initiatives to create safer and more accessible in-person voting, and as November 3rd draws near, it’s important to stay heavily informed on the ins and outs of voting processes in your area. The several paragraphs above have not even come close to mentioning all of the ways Republican leaders are trying to make voting difficult. Some of those include extremely early deadlines for mail-in votes where they are allowed, so even if you see or hear that you can mail-in your vote, make sure you look now as to when that has to be done by. Few things seem important enough to gather for amidst the ongoing COVID crisis, but I would opine that voting (especially this time around) is one of them. If you don’t trust the procedures for mail-in voting in your area, wash those hands, put on that mask, get to your polling place, and speak up about how these changes need to be made for the good of American democracy.
All photos are from the Save the USPS rally in August, San Diego CA by Brendan Cleak
Follow him @brendancleak