[OPINION] Trump’s attack on the USPS suppresses your right to vote amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo by Pope Moysuh on Unsplash

SUFFRAGE is defined as “the right to vote in electing public officials and adopting or rejecting proposed legislation,” according to Britannica.

The exercise of the right to vote by every citizen is the very foundation of a democracy — the government of the people, by the people, for the people.

But what would and should you do as a citizen when the president of the United States is the person who does and will do everything to sabotage your right to vote amid the threat of the greatest public health crisis the world is now facing in a century?

Since December 2019, the coronavirus pandemic has infected almost 21 million people around the world, killing more than 760,633 people. The United States — the most powerful and wealthier nation in the world which used to lead all the countries in the prevention and fight against diseases including pandemics — now accounts for 22% of the death toll worldwide. The threat of COVID-19 to the American people’s lives and safety becomes even more daunting.

There are now more than 5.26 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and the pandemic has taken the lives of more than 167,000 Americans. Just on Thursday, August 14 alone, we grieved the deaths of 1,149 American people. They were somebody’s father, mother, son, daughter, grandmother, grandfather, partner, friend, or colleague — all lost because of COVID-19.

The pandemic threatens the American people’s ability to exercise their right to vote. It’s one of the reasons why Republicans, aligned with the White House, and Democrats have been failing to reach a deal on another round of legislation to help Americans whose livelihoods have been affected.

Among other things that matter to the basic needs of the lives of the American people, the Democrats have been fighting for election assistance and support for the United States Postal Service (USPS) ahead of the November election.

As CBS News reported, State Minority Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that he pushed the White House on August 6 “to include $3.6 billion for the states to hold elections, including vote-by-mail, but the Trump Administration, headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in the negotiations, refused.”

“Why are they resisting?” Schumer asked.

This is a valid important question because you would think that everyone in government — the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches — would work together and do everything possible so that every American will be able to cast their sacred vote while keeping us all safe from the threat of COVID-19.

Mail-in voting is a form of absentee ballot by which a ballot is mailed to the home of a registered voter. The voter then fills it out and returns it by postal mail or drops it off in-person into a secure drop box or at a voting center.

Americans have been voting by mail since the 1760s. In fact, absentee ballots were first used for the military during the American Civil War, spearheaded by the Republicans led by President Abraham Lincoln, who wanted Union soldiers to be able to exercise their right to vote from the battlefield.

For many years thereafter, these ballots have been helpful for people who could not go to the polling place on election day. Mail-in-voting has increased voter turnout, especially in places where people can be challenged to go to the polls because of the weather, their work schedule, or other health, logistical and personal reasons. Even President Donald Trump and his family have been casting their votes through mail-in voting.

And now, heading to the November elections, Trump and his supporters have been peddling conspiracy theories about voter fraud in mail-in-voting without basis in fact!

But how blatantly hypocritical can this president be in allowing and even promoting mail-in-voting in Florida, where he is a resident now, while demonizing and stopping voting by mail in other states, especially those that tend to vote Democratic?

EVEN WORSE, Trump is now using and misusing his power and the taxpayers’ money to make it hard and unsafe for people to vote amid the pandemic, by limiting the United States Postal Service (USPS), one of the most respected government institutions in the United States. According to Pew Research, the USPS is the most well-liked government agency in the country with a 91% favorability rating.

“Americans have come to depend on the modern iteration of the Postal Service to quickly deliver lifesaving medicines, election ballots, bills, checks, and other goods through rough weather, world wars, natural disasters, and pandemics. Nearly 6,190 USPS employees, deemed essential workers, have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 60 have died,” Fortune reported.

According to a July 24 report by Fortune, “Trump has repeatedly said that he refuses to sign any legislation with a USPS bailout provision. ‘The Postal Service is a joke,’ said the President in May. His administration nixed a bipartisan attempt to provide $13 billion to the Postal Service in March and previously recommended measures to privatize parts of the service.”

Moving toward this direction for the USPS is the newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump ally and Republican donor. His prescription to save the cash-strapped institution since he took office in June? Slow mail delivery. Seriously.

 

No overtime. No new hiring despite the anticipated surge in mail-in ballots. USPS mailboxes are seen and confirmed being hauled away in trucks. On top of this, Vice News’ Motherboard reported that the “USPS is quietly removing mail sorting machines — the very machines that are responsible for sorting ballots. There’s no official explanation for the changes, and it’s unclear why the machines would be removed rather than simply not used when not needed. The removals and planned removals are reportedly affecting several processing facilities across the U.S.”

“Lawmakers from both parties and postal union leaders have sounded alarms over disruptive changes instituted by DeJoy this summer,” CNN reported. “Democrats claim he is intentionally undermining postal service operations to sabotage mail-in voting in the November election — a charge he denies.”

Democrats have asked the inspector general to launch an inquiry into DeJoy. “DeJoy still owns at least a $30 million equity stake in his former company — a USPS contractor — and that he recently bought stock options for Amazon, a USPS competitor. These holdings likely create a major conflict of interest, ethics experts told CNN, though DeJoy and USPS maintain that he has complied with all federal requirements.”

A survey commissioned by the National Association of Letter Carriers found that 92% of American voters said they supported direct financial aid for USPS as part of the next coronavirus relief bill, the Associated Press reported in May.

Yet, Trump declined to approve the $25 billion in emergency funding the Democrats are negotiating for the cash-strapped USPS as part of the coronavirus legislation.
On Friday, August 14, USPS warns 46 states it can’t guarantee delayed mail-in ballots will be counted!

WHY is Trump doing this?

Here is Trump in his own words, as we have seen and heard on TV and on social media, and as reported by the much-respected National Public Radio (NPR):

“Responding to questions about comments in a Thursday morning interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, who had asked why the White House and congressional Democrats are still miles apart on approving a new relief deal.

Trump said one major factor is the Democrats’ push for an injection of funds into the Postal Service to expand voting by mail.

“They [the Democrats] want $3 1/2 billion for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent — that’s election money basically.

Continued the president: “They want $25 billion for the post office. 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. Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. 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.

Eight states are mailing ballots to all active voters this fall, including five that have been doing so for years, but most states are not conducting what Trump calls universal mail-in voting.

Trump continued: “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.”

During his Thursday briefing to reporters, Trump reiterated that stance, saying: “We have to have an honest election, and if it’s not going to be an honest election, I guess people have to sit down and think really long and hard about it.”

“If they’re not going to approve a bill, and the post office, therefore, won’t have the money, and if they’re not going to approve a big bill — a bigger bill — and they’re not going to have the $3 1/2 billion for the universal mail-in votes, how can you have those votes?”

“What [it] would mean is the people will have to go to the polls and vote like the old days, like two years ago, three years ago. … It doesn’t say anybody is taking the vote away, but it means that the universal mail-ins don’t work,” Trump said.

Pressed on what that means for Americans who would be reluctant to vote in public for fear of the coronavirus, Trump said: “They’re going to have to feel safe, and they will be safe. And we will make sure that they’re safe, and we’re not going to have to spend $3 1/2 billion to do it.”

In less than 81 days from today, the American people will be making their most consequential and sacred decision on the direction we think the country should be heading to, and the leader we trust to steer it in that direction.

Photo by Tiffany Tertipes on Unsplash

We, the people, will elect a president who will live up to the sacred oath of upholding and defending the Constitution; a commander-in-chief who will protect and defend the lives and rights of the American people he has sworn to serve and not be served by; a chief executive who will be committed to fighting for the greater good of the American people and not just the privileged few.

We will be electing a president who reflects our values and the true soul of America — someone who can bring out the best in us instead of the worst in us as we all move toward creating a more perfect union.

Trump only sees everything from his lens that will lead him to the pathway to help his re-election bid. Just like how he would push for businesses and schools to re-open just despite what science says about how children and other people can spread the virus despite being asymptomatic.

It’s just like how he would say more than 1,000 people dying in America every day is “insignificant” because it does not fit his narrative even if it has been bending the truth for his personal agenda.

Abraham Lincoln allowed our troops to vote from the battlefield via mail-in-voting so that all Americans’ right to vote may be exercised, protecting the very foundation of our democracy.

We are all on the battlefield in our war against the coronavirus and Trump, the supposed president, should never get in the way in our way to cast our vote safely via mail.

DEMAND funding for the USPS for mail-in ballots to be delivered on time so our votes will be counted.

Stop Trump from suppressing our right to vote amid the pandemic. What he is doing is an affront to our democratic principles and processes enshrined and protected by the Constitution.

* * *

Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at gelrelos@icloud.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos
Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

1 Comment
  1. The right to vote doesn’t apply to every citizen. It doesn’t apply to minors and it doesn’t apply to felons in most states and while it should apply only to most citizens, many states–like California–make it possible or even encourage people in the US illegally to vote. Also, the ‘foundation of democracy’ is not defined as a government of the people, by the people and for the people–that part is from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and the United States is not a democracy but a constitutional republic.

    The Chinese Virus, called Covid-19 by some, is no more a threat to the right to vote than the flu or the cold. If you are going to use statistics, then use them factually and to inform readers rather than attempting to frighten them. There may be 5.26 million confirmed cases of the Chinese Virus in the US, but that doesn’t mean that 5.26 million Americans are running around with it active in them. It means that since testing has begun, there are 5.26 million positive test results. Some people have it. Some had it and don’t anymore. And some never had it. There have been a lot of “errors” not just with test results but with fatalities listing the cause of death from the Chinese Virus. One example has many positive results come back in the state of Florida—for people that were NEVER even tested! Another example has a person in Florida that died in a motorcycle accident as having died from the Chinese Virus. People who have died from cancer, from other illnesses, from violence done to them, have been listed as Covid fatalities if it was even suspected they maybe could have had the virus. Not confirmed to have had, but just suspected, you know, guessing! The 5.26 million positive results, the 160,000+ fatalities, are numbers that have been grossly inflated, intentionally to scare the populace into believing what the government wants them to believe so they will do what the government tells them to do. The death rate is the only important figure to track. Yet to hear government officials, they would have you think it worse that the Black Death that decimated Europe in the dark ages. Joe Biden would even have you believe that 120 million Americans, more than 1/3rd of the US population, had died from it! But then again, Biden also said 150 million Americans have been killed by ‘gun violence’ too. So between the Chinese Virus and ‘gun violence’, Biden thinks that about 270 million Americans have been killed recently, which only leaves about 50 million people left in the country!

    The pandemic is not a reason for the failure of Republicans and Democrats to reach a new deal to help Americans affected by the Chinese Virus. A deal isn’t reached because Democrats don’t want to just pass a bill to only help Americans financially affected. They want to bail out states that have been run into the ground financially by Democrat leaders—California and New York being the biggest and best examples of this. The Democrats want to spend more than $4 trillion, what they want is a wish list. That’s $4 trillion the US doesn’t have that would be added on to a national debt that is already close to $30 trillion! No more spending packages need to be done or should be done. The quickest way to help people recover is to open the states and get people back to work. Its already been done in states like South Dakota. Safety measures have been put in place so it can work, but Democrat mayors and governors do not want to do this. They cannot hand even the slightest victory to President Trump. They must do everything they can to make the pandemic look like its all his fault!

    Chuck Schumer is a perfect example of this. He doens’t want to help Americans, he wants them to hurt and hope they will take that pain and blame it on Trump in November. Wanting to give billions to the USPS for mail-in voting is part of the problem, and the Trump administration wisely refused to go along with it. Mail-in voting is rife with corruption, fraud and waste and is a different thing entirely than Absentee Ballot voting. Numerous states are reporting problems with mail-in voting, with millions of ballots being declared invalid for any number of reasons. And of course Democrats are pushing this. They know Biden cannot beat Trump in the election, but if they can get enough people to do mail-in voting, then Trump won’t be able to declare a victory on the night of November 3. Once that happens, the media will unleash a torrent of pressure on Trump to admit defeat, to admit Biden won (even if that cannot be immediately proven either) and they are counting on bearing down enough pressure on him to get him to admit defeat. So, of course Trump will not support mail-in ballots or agree to abide by election results—until they can be verified and confirmed.

    Mail-in voting, all the corruption aside, is also completely unnecessary! Every day people leave their homes to go to the gas station, the grocery store, restaurants…to work! And they do so safely. Masks or face shields (sometimes both), social distancing, using hand sanitizer—there are plenty measures in place to allow people to vote safely, just as many people are going about their daily lives as safe as they can! But again, not every American gets to vote—and its no more or less ‘sacred’ than any other right Americans enjoy. And mail-in voting is NOT a form of Absentee Ballot voting—its not just apples to oranges, its more like comparing apples to a ribeye steak! There are safeguards, measures, procedures and requirements for Absentee Ballot voting, and NONE of that for mail-in voting. Where mail-in has been used already, there have been millions of mail-in ballots invalidated for a multitude of reasons! Like most other Democrats, Mrs. Relos is attempting to make mail-in appear to be the same as absentee when they are instead two very different things! And President Trump has voted by Absentee Ballot, not mail-in.

    There are plenty of factual examples of the fraud involved with mail-in voting. I will list a few here:
    https://www.westernjournal.com/four-people-charged-mail-election-fraud-dems-continue-push-vote-mail/ 19% of the mail-in ballots in this election were fraudulent!
    https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/04/10/potential-for-fraud-is-why-mail-in-elections-should-be-dead-letter/ Los Angeles had 1.5 million people on voter rolls that were no longer eligible to vote! Tens of thousands of votes outside of Portland were cast by people other than those named on the ballots!
    https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/04/21/15-election-results-that-were-thrown-out-because-of-fraudulent-mail-in-ballots/
    https://gellerreport.com/2020/04/mail-in-voter-fraud.html/
    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/04/24/28_million_mail-in_ballots_went_missing_in_last_four_elections_143033.html#! Millions of ballots just go missing and never turn up!

    Mrs. Relos can talk up the USPS all she wants and even mention Pew and Fortune, but when it comes down to it, the USPS is a money trap. It is billions in debt and private companies (Amazon, UPS, etc.,) can deliver faster and more accurately, and for much less! USPS isn’t nearly as critical as she makes it out to be. If it were a private business, and not a government boondoggle, it would have gone under and closed up shop long ago! The $25 billion in USPS aid she mentions doesn’t even have anything to do with aid because of the Chinese Virus! But even if they had been given the money, they still couldn’t guarantee mail-in votes would arrive in time to be counted accurately!

    Mrs. Relos’ use of NPR isn’t surprising, but its only ‘much respected’ by the people who are against Trump! So, its also not surprising they wouldn’t have anything positive or even objective to say about the President! The President has done more for this country than any other President in the past 100 years or so! Before the Chinese Virus, unemployment was at its lowest for almost every demographic, America’s military had been rebuilt from decimated levels Obama reduced it to, businesses were prospering and people were prospering too!

    Also, President Trump never said 1,000 deaths per day from the Chinese Virus was insignificant. In that interview, he said, “…it is what it is…”. He was also looking at deaths as a percentage of cases not as a percentage of the populations. Even with the inflated number of cases and deaths, the US is still only at a 3.1% mortality rate—which would be much lower once the inflated numbers were taken out.

    Abraham Lincoln did allow troops to vote by mail, but that was also a very controlled situation with citizens whose identity was already verified and there was almost no chance for fraud—something completely unlike mail-in voting in the country today. And again, the US is not a democracy. It sounds nice maybe, but its just not reality.

    Also, Trump is the President, not the “supposed president”. Votes were counted and he won. Not Hillary. And the country is not in a battle against the President. Not even in a battle against the Chinese Virus. Yes, it sounds dramatic and courageous, but again, that’s just not reality. That Mrs. Relos thinks that about the country makes me think she would be more at home with the rioters in Portland who only want to bring chaos and destruction to the rest of the country. If people can go to the store safely, they can vote safely. The President isn’t suppressing anyone’s rights. He’s not only defending them, he is safeguarding them against corruption and fraud.

    The only affront here is Mrs. Relos’ outright hostility toward the President! She clearly has not been objective in her article here and she sounds like a paid agent for the Democrats to help push their mail-in voting scheme so they can try and take the election because even Biden knows he can’t beat Trump.

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