clearn.png
Wednesday December 2nd, 2020 4:52AM

Mail-in ballots thrust Postal Service into presidential race

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service's famous motto — "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers” — is being tested like never before, by challenges that go well beyond the weather.

The coronavirus has devastated its finances. The Trump administration may attach big strings to bailouts.

The agency’s responsibilities, meanwhile, are mounting. A dramatic shift in many states to voting by mail is intended to protect voters from spreading the virus at polling places. But it’s also making more work for post offices and contributing to delays in determining election winners.

Election results have been delayed this week in Kentucky and New York because both states were overwhelmed by huge increases in mail ballots.

“What we don’t need is more chaos in the chaos,” said Wendy Fields, executive director of the voting rights advocacy group The Democracy Initiative.

President Donald Trump opposes expanding voting by mail, asserting it will trigger fraud, even though there's no evidence that will happen. Trump and many of his administration's leading voices frequently vote absentee themselves.

The president has also called the Postal Service “a joke” and says package shipping rates should be at least four times higher for heavy users such as Amazon. But shipping packages is a main revenue generator, and critics say Trump is merely looking to punish Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in retaliation for unflattering coverage in The Washington Post, which the billionaire owns.

Trump has acknowledged larger political calculations are at work, tweeting that expanding vote by mail will “LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY.” His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has suggested that Trump's opposition to absentee voting and criticism of the Postal Service may help the incumbent “steal” the election.

Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents 200,000-plus employees, said the administration is “shamefully trying to use the crisis to carry out an agenda" of privatization, which would ultimately "break up the Postal Service and sell it.”

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat, said “our democracy depends on a reliable post office.”

“Midelection year is not the time to see changes in the dependability of the Postal Service, especially during a year when our country is experiencing a pandemic and health crisis, which will dramatically increase the necessity of voting by mail," he said.

The Postal Service predates the United States. It was created by the Second Continental Congress in July 1775, and Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general.

Unlike its private competitors, the Postal Service cannot refuse to make costly deliveries to especially hard-to-reach addresses. Still, much of its budgetary concerns stem from a 2006 law requiring the agency to fully fund retiree health benefits for the next 75 years.

It normally operates without taxpayer funds. During the pandemic, however, it lost $4.5 billion in the 2020 budget year's second quarter. Congress approved a $10 billion line of credit for the agency as part of an economic rescue package in March. Since then, though, the Postal Service and the Treasury Department have had discussions about requirements to extend those loans.

Neither side will say publicly what's being negotiated, but Trump has made his feelings clear. A 2018 Treasury task force also recommended the Postal Service increase package rates and cut labor costs. A second coronavirus aid package passed in May by the Democratic-controlled House includes $25 billion in direct aid for the Postal Service, but the GOP-majority Senate hasn't approved its own version.

More than 3,420 of the Postal Service's 630,00-plus employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and some have died. While package deliveries have increased as Americans stay home, mail volumes plummeted — as much as 30%, according to the American Postal Workers Union.

In April, then-Postmaster General Megan Brennan said the agency could be out of money by Sept. 30. Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman and GOP fundraiser who's donated to Trump, recently succeeded Brennan.

Postal Service spokesperson David Partenheimer said more recent trends “indicate that our 2020 financial performance will be better than our early scenarios predicted," though he said much remains uncertain.

"Our current financial condition is not going to impact our ability to deliver election and political mail this year,” Partenheimer said.

But Condos, who was president of the National Association of Secretaries of State from July 2018 to July 2019, fears keeping such a promise could force the Postal Service to cut back on routine services, which may see voting materials prioritized over regular mail. The pressure is also on because absentee ballots for overseas military members are sent 45 days before Election Day — or Sept. 18, which is less than three months away.

“This whole idea that we have until November to decide, we really don’t,” Condos said.

The Postal Service consistently ranks as the nation's favorite federal agency. Pew Research Center polling in March found that 91% of Americans said they had a favorable view of it. Congressional Democrats are clamoring to “save the post office,” and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are among those proposing boosting Postal Service profits by having it expand into banking services, which it provided for decades until the 1960s.

Rural Republicans such as Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, have also called for defending the agency. Still, some conservatives say tying its funding to Election Day jitters is a partisan ploy.

“It’s just casting seeds of doubt on the legitimacy of the outcome,” said Republican Tom Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor who heads VoteSafe, a bipartisan group working with state and local officials to expand and strengthen vote-by-mail options. "It’s very sad, it’s very disappointing, it’s very troubling.”

___

Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to show Condos is a past president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, not the current one, and that Alaska Rep. Young's first name is Don, not Dan.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
'Faces of the conquerors': Trump trip to Rushmore draws fire
President Donald Trump’s plans to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore are drawing sharp criticism from Native Americans who view the monument as a desecration of land violently stolen from them
12:24AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Wisconsin governor activates National Guard after violence
Wisconsin’s governor has activated the National Guard to protect state properties after a night of violence that included the toppling of two statues outside the state Capitol and an attack on a state senator
12:24AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Impatience grows for cops' arrests in Breonna Taylor's death
The outcry has reverberated for weeks online and at demonstrations nationwide: Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor
12:15AM ( 39 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Iginla headlines 2020 Hall class as 4th Black player elected
Jarome Iginla headlines the Hockey Hall of Fame's class of 2020 after being elected in his first year of eligibility
12:27AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Asian stocks skid as new coronavirus cases rattle markets
Shares are lower in Asia after a sell-off on Wall Street as new coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit their highest level in two months
12:14AM ( 41 minutes ago )
The Latest: Hawaii to let some visitors avoid quarantine
Hawaii Gov. David Ige says that starting Aug. 1 travelers arriving from out of state may bypass a 14-day quarantine requirement if they test negative for the coronavirus
11:57PM ( 57 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
SKorea, US urge North to implement denuclearization pledges
South Korea and the United States are urging North Korea to implement disarmament pledges it made in past talks
11:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Targeted sculptures linked to Wisconsin, Civil War history
Protesters have defaced and torn down statues of historic figures during recent demonstrations against racial injustice in cities across the nation
10:29PM ( 2 hours ago )
3 men indicted on murder charges in killing of Ahmaud Arbery
A prosecutor has announced that three men have been indicted on murder charges in the killing of a Black man in coastal Georgia, Ahmaud Arbery
10:01PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Mongolian People's Party retains strong parliament majority
Preliminary election results show the Mongolian People’s Party retaining a strong parliamentary majority
10:27PM ( 2 hours ago )
Joe Biden turns focus to Wisconsin with battle-tested hires
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is turning to experienced Wisconsin political operatives to lead his campaign in a state that helped deliver President Donald Trump his Electoral College majority in 2016
9:32PM ( 3 hours ago )
WikiLeaks founder Assange faces new indictment in US
The Justice Department says a federal grand jury has returned a new indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that does not include new charges but broadens the scope of conduct that the government believes broke the law
7:35PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Police overhaul dims as GOP Senate bill blocked by Democrats
A Republican policing bill stalled out Wednesday, blocked in a vote by Senate Democrats who dismissed it as meager “crumbs.”
5:45PM ( 7 hours ago )
Kentucky Democrats begin wait for Senate election results
Kentucky's Democratic Senate primary to determine who challenges Republican Mitch McConnell has gone into overtime
5:00PM ( 7 hours ago )
GOP police bill hits roadblock, as Dems seek broader changes
A Republican policing bill stalled out Wednesday, blocked in a vote by Senate Democrats who dismissed it as meager “crumbs.”
4:57PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Democratic super PAC is joining Trump-TV station lawsuit
A federal judge has granted a leading Democratic super PAC’s request to join a court fight between President Donald Trump and a Wisconsin TV station
5:36PM ( 7 hours ago )
Q&A: Harris says Democrats need to listen to young voters
California Sen. Kamala Harris says Democrats “need to listen" to young black and Latino voters demanding change
1:47PM ( 11 hours ago )
The Latest: SC candidate in US House race tests positive
The Republican nominee in a heavily contested U.S. House race in South Carolina says she has been diagnosed with COVID-19
12:00PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Cawthorn beats Trump's pick for Meadows' seat
A 24-year-old real estate investment CEO has won the Republican primary runoff for Mark Meadows’ North Carolina congressional seat over President Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate
8:56PM ( 1 day ago )
Obama raises $7.6 million at fundraiser for Biden's campaign
Former President Barack Obama has helped raise a record-breaking $7.6 million from more than 175,000 individual donors in a grassroots fundraiser for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden
8:55PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Kentucky polling site gets 30-minute extension
A group locked outside a voting site in Louisville, Kentucky, were seen on video banging on doors at the entrance of the city’s only polling location
8:09PM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
Obama raises $7.6M for Joe Biden's campaign
Former President Barack Obama has helped raise a record-breaking $7.6 million from more than 175,000 individual donors ahead of his first fundraiser for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden
5:52PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Judge upholds Louisiana's emergency plan
A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s emergency plan for its July presidential primary and August municipal elections
4:54PM ( 1 day ago )
LGBT groups criticize Trump for hosting Polish president
U.S. President Donald Trump is facing criticism for hosting Poland’s president at the White House days before his visitor faces a tougher than expected fight for reelection
4:08PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
The Latest: Senegal president to self isolate after exposure
Senegal's national television says President Macky Sall is going into quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the new coronavirus
11:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Nevada mandating use of face masks for pandemic
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says the state will begin mandating the use of face-coverings in public places in an effort to stem a rise in coronavirus cases four weeks after casinos, restaurants and other businesses started reopening
10:35PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: South Korea's virus resurgence has 28 more cases
South Korea has reported 28 more coronavirus cases as the country strives to suppress a resurgence of the virus, mostly in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area
10:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Stocks slide on Wall Street as new coronavirus cases surge
Stocks slumped on Wall Street after new coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit their highest level in two months, renewing worries that the economy may take longer to bounce back than investors had hoped
4:39PM ( 8 hours ago )
Peru giving up on virus measures in face of sinking economy
The same day that the Peruvian government announced another grim increase in the number of coronavirus infections, thousands of people packed together in lines outside shopping malls
4:31PM ( 8 hours ago )
The Latest: Oklahoma has record spike in COVID-19 cases
Oklahoma health officials are reporting a record one-day spike of 482 positive tests for COVID-19
2:41PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
'Faces of the conquerors': Trump trip to Rushmore draws fire
President Donald Trump’s plans to kick off Independence Day with a showy display at Mount Rushmore are drawing sharp criticism from Native Americans who view the monument as a desecration of land violently stolen from them
12:24AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Wisconsin governor activates National Guard after violence
Wisconsin’s governor has activated the National Guard to protect state properties after a night of violence that included the toppling of two statues outside the state Capitol and an attack on a state senator
12:24AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Impatience grows for cops' arrests in Breonna Taylor's death
The outcry has reverberated for weeks online and at demonstrations nationwide: Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor
12:15AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Census shows white decline, nonwhite majority among youngest
For the generation of Americans not yet old enough to drive, the demographic future has arrived
12:10AM ( 46 minutes ago )
Police overhaul dims, but House Democrats push ahead on vote
A policing overhaul may have collapsed in Congress, but House Democrats are returning Thursday to Washington for a daylong debate on their package of law enforcement changes
12:03AM ( 53 minutes ago )