The under-the-gun U.S. Postal Service is telling Americans they have a shared responsibility to make sure mailed ballots reach official vote counters in time.
In an ongoing mass mailing of its own, the USPS states on a postcard, “We’re ready to deliver for you. Make sure you’re ready too.”
The notice comes as the Postal Service gears up for its most challenging political mission in history: deliver an estimated 80 million ballots by Nov. 3.
In the process, Democrats have pummeled President Trump and USPS with allegations that it is deliberately slow-walking ballot delivery — a claim the postmaster general rejects.
One claim is that the Postal Service is removing those familiar blue collection boxes so there are fewer places to drop ballots.
A USPS report before the 2016 election said 12,000 boxes had been removed the previous five years during the Obama administration because they were underused. The Postal Service is delivering 30% fewer pieces of first-class mail each year than it did 10 years ago, from 82.7 billion to 55 billion in 2019.
The postcard is the second public announcement in which the USPS shares the onus for making sure the country’s first mass-mail election, which is now underway, goes smoothly.
USPS Inspector General Tammy L. Whitcomb on Aug. 31 issued a report criticizing local election officials for using outdated envelopes that lack barcodes, making ballots untraceable. The IG also said election boards have too-short deadlines for making sure ballots reach counters by Election Day.
Experts estimate that 80 million citizens will vote by mail in the presidential election, a 100% increase compared with 2016, when 41 million voted by mail. In all, 138 million Americans voted by mail or in person for president four years ago.
This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 12 states have switched to automatic mailings, either ballot applications or ballots themselves, according to Ballotpedia.org. All retain in-person voting. Before the virus, five states were conducting mass-mail voting while also opening precincts.
Thirty states, including the 12 mass-mailers, changed various voting rules due to the virus, such as easing absentee ballot requirements.
The remaining 20 states made no changes. In Florida, for example, a citizen can vote by mail the same way as before by individually requesting a ballot and turning it in by 7 p.m. Election Day.
Generally, there are two types of mail-ins: absentee, in which a single voter requests an application, and mass-mailed, in which everyone on a voter roster automatically receives an application or ballot.
Maryland is mailing every registered voter an application. Virginia is not, according to Ballotpedia.
The USPS postcard urges voters to request a ballot at least 15 days before Election Day and mail ballots at least seven days before Nov. 3.
“Start today,” the USPS says. “If you vote by mail, we’re committed to providing officials ample time to complete the process.”
Mr. Trump, joined by conservatives, fears mass mailings will result in fraud by people voting by mail and in person, or by obtaining multiple ballots.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation submitted court briefings in Georgia and North Carolina that asserted that thousands of people in both states voted twice in the same election in 2016 and 2018.
Georgia’s secretary of state reported this month that 1,000 people voted twice in the June primary.
In Nevada, officials in Las Vegas-centered Clark County, the state’s largest, decided to send 1.3 million ballots, not applications, to everyone on its voter list for the June primary. Only 305,000 were mailed back and counted. Nearly 225,000 were returned by USPS as undeliverable. That left 700,000 ballots unreturned.
An election official told The Washington Times that the assumption is voters received them and decided not to vote.
Local newscasts showed undelivered ballots dumped in trash receptacles.
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at email@example.com.
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