To protect the November election, we must protect the USPS | Opinion

opinion

When President Donald Trump recently suggested that this year’s election could be delayed, many Americans were shocked that our president might illegally try to use the COVID-19 pandemic to keep himself in office. We Americans are resilient, and through wars, natural disasters, and pandemics, we’ve never delayed a presidential election. This year should be no different.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created not only an economic crisis and a health crisis, but also a crisis in our democracy. During this pandemic, when the president should be working to save the lives and livelihoods of Americans, this administration is attempting to suppress the vote by manipulating the United States Postal Service, underfunding our elections, endlessly attacking vote-by-mail, and making patently false claims about nearly non-existent voter fraud.

The president’s latest attacks on the United States Postal Service warrant additional focus and universal condemnation. The USPS is a vital lifeline for many Delawareans who rely on it for deliveries of necessities — like critical medications — and to keep in touch with loved ones; many of us will also vote-by-mail this year. However, Trump recently helped install one of his loyal supporters to serve as Postmaster General, and he has already begun implementing procedures to slow down mail delivery. This deliberate disenfranchisement effort could mean that many voters will not receive their absentee ballot or be able to return it in time to be counted, and voters in certain states’ primary elections have already reported significant delays receiving their mail-in ballots.

For our elections to be safe, secure, and accessible, we need to make sure states have sufficient resources to print and process a massive increase in absentee ballots, purchase PPE for poll workers, and ensure that polling places are cleaned and sanitized properly. With cash-strapped state budgets, Republican and Democratic elections officials have sounded the alarm that they need federal resources to do their jobs. The federal government needs to step up and provide the $3.6 billion experts say that we need to carry out our elections during a pandemic.

Instead, Trump is standing in the way of progress on a COVID-19 relief package, using his bully pulpit to attack vote-by-mail and spreading disinformation about voter fraud. Trump has not provided any evidence to support his claims about vote-by-mail and voter fraud – because it doesn’t exist. Through these efforts, the president is single-handedly attempting to undermine Americans’ faith in our government and suppress the vote.

OPINION: My dad, the mailman

To solve the many problems that the Trump administration has created and exacerbated, we need comprehensive reform to fix our democracy and empower the voices of all Delaware residents and every American. In the short term, we are tirelessly working to include provisions to protect the USPS and fully fund our elections in the next COVID-19 relief package, so that states and localities have the resources they need to handle the significant increase in mail-in ballots and the other logistical challenges to our voting system caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Senate Democrats, Common Cause, hundreds of other organizations, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have demanded that Senate Republicans and the White House invest in our state and local elections. In the longer term, we need to pass both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Our government ‘of the people’ is stronger and more representative when every voter can participate – and these two bills are essential to restoring Americans’ confidence that our government is both ‘by’ and ‘for’ all the people in our country.

LETTERS: Carper and the USPS and the Amtrak station

Here in Delaware, we’ve already made significant progress to ensure that all Delawareans can have their voices heard and votes safely counted during the COVID-19 crisis. We implemented online voter registration and “opt-in” automatic voter registration, and all Delaware voters will be able to vote-by-mail this year. Election officials plan to open polling places for each election district for voters who prefer to vote in person. If you’re voting by mail, it’s important to return your ballot application and your ballot as soon as possible to ensure it is received in time. If you have any questions or don’t receive a ballot application or your ballot after applying, please be sure to contact your local election office or visit ivote.de.gov.

Our democracy has survived wars, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters, and we will make it through this pandemic as well. The Trump administration’s attempts to manipulate and undermine our democracy have been met with resistance at every turn. In the end, our democracy will come out stronger, but it starts with all Delawareans making our voices heard.

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