Postal workers in the US have warned that an election scandal could be unfolding after the United States Postal Service started quietly removing the machines responsible for sorting ballots.
According to reports USPS is taking away machines rather than simply not using them when not needed – with no explanation for why such drastic action is being taken.
One source told The Washington Post that the move will “force the mail to be worked by human hands in sorting” which “guarantees to stop productivity”.
Postal workers say equipment is often moved around or replaced, but not usually at such a rate, and not in such a way that would affect workers’ ability to quickly process large quantities of mail.
Local union officials also have no idea what’s going on. “I’m not sure you’re going to find an answer for why,” one union president told Vice, “because we haven’t figured that out either.”
Text from Postal Service source on this news: “It’ll force the mail to be worked by human hands in sorting. Guarantees to STOP productivity. On top of cutting the overtime needed to run the machines, can you imagine the OT needed to do this to old hard way?” https://t.co/SFZnZuFF6w— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) August 13, 2020
Boost in funding
Yesterday Donald Trump confirmed that he will block funding for the US Postal Service requested by Democratic lawmakers, citing his intention to prevent universal mail-in voting.
The President acknowledged in the interview that the USPS will be unable to process a large number of ballots from mail-in voting without the funding – even though there is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to higher levels of voter fraud, according to multiple experts, news organisations and fact-checkers.
“I’m not doing this for any reason,” Trump said, referring to his push to deny the agency funds. “Maybe the other turns out to be my advantage. I don’t know, I can’t tell you that. But I do know this: I just want an accurate vote.”
Eight states are mailing ballots to all active voters this autumn, including six 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.
“Sabotaging a basic service”
The Joe Biden campaign has said Trump “sabotaging a basic service” in response to the moves, calling his intentions an “assault on democracy.”
“The president of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years — a crisis so devastatingly worsened by his own failed leadership that we are now the hardest hit country in the world by the coronavirus pandemic,” Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.
It isn’t the first time this week that the president has lambasted voting by mail.
On Wednesday, he devoted a considerable amount of time during his daily briefing with reporters to denounce any plans for additional funding to support the Postal Service.
“Now they want to take it countrywide — mail-in voting. It’s going to be the greatest fraud in the history of elections. When you always talk about Russia, Russia, Russia and China, Iran on voting — the biggest problem is going to be with the Democrats, not with China, Russia and Iran,” he said.
Experts have estimated that as many as 70 per cent of votes could be cast by mail in this election cycle because of disruptions caused by the pandemic.