In the wake of what was dubbed a "Friday Night Massacre" at the U.S. Postal Service—compounded by news that first-class postage rates, as opposed to cheaper bulk rates, would be charged for processing mail-in ballots in November—calls overnight and into Saturday have gone out for people across the U.S. to rise up in a coordinated fashion to end what many observers warn is a blatant effort by the Trump administration and the GOP to sabotage the federal mail delivery service ahead of this year's elections.
While Republicans in the Senate and the White House negotiating team have both refused to accept Democratic demands to include massive funding for election protections in the next round of Covid-19 relief as a way to have safe and accessible voting for all amid the pandemic, the latest news about what Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a longtime GOP donor and Trump supporter, has been doing since appointed earlier this summer is prompting outrage, accountability, and calls for immediate action.
"This is how they destroy our democracy," warned progressive activist Ady Barkan while pointing to a report by The American Prospect's David Dayen which noted the looming postage hike on mail-in absentee ballots.
According to Dayen:
The Postal Service has informed states that they'll need to pay first-class 55-cent postage to mail ballots to voters, rather than the normal 20-cent bulk rate. That nearly triples the per-ballot cost at a time when tens of millions more will be delivered. The rate change would have to go through the Postal Regulatory Commission and, undoubtedly, litigation. But the time frame for that is incredibly short, as ballots go out very soon.
A side benefit of this money grab is that states and cities may decide they don’t have the money to mail absentee ballots, and will make them harder to get. Which is exactly the worst-case scenario everyone fears.
The American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which represents over 220,000 mail carriers and retirees, on Saturday said it was necessary for all constituents worried about the attacks on the USPS or the integrity of mail-in voting this fall to immediately contact their representatives in the U.S. Senate:
— APWU National (@APWUnational) August 8, 2020
Other outside defenders of the Postal Service said that while agitating members of Congress was vital, the scale of the threat calls for action beyond that.
"Grind the government to a fucking halt if we have to," declared liberal commentator Brian Tyler Cohen late Friday. "I can't stress this enough— if the USPS is sabotaged, this will amount to the greatest voter suppression campaign in history. The election will effectively become void... AND THAT IS WHAT TRUMP WANTS—THAT IS HIS POINT HERE."
— John Cusack (@johncusack) August 8, 2020
As veteran consumer advocate Ralph Nader said last month, "Trump's henchman Louis DeJoy took control of USPS last month and is already slowing down first class mail service to undermine Benjamin Franklin's institution. People should hold demonstrations around their local post offices."
Trump’s henchman Louis DeJoy took control of @USPS last month and is already slowing down first class mail service to undermine Benjamin Franklin’s institution. People should hold demonstrations around their local post offices. It would get good media. #SaveThePostOffice -R
— Ralph Nader (@RalphNader) July 23, 2020
In a video posted to the APWU's Facebook page, a longtime USPS employee in Minneapolis identified only by his first name Kevin, called on people nationwide to "come together and save our Post Office" from the attacks coming Trump's White House and DeJoy.
With vote-by-mail so crucial for ballot access this November, outspoken defenders of the Postal Service are calling it a national "five-alarm fire" and a crisis that cannot be overstated.
— Indivisible MoCo (@IndivisibleMoCo) August 8, 2020
"The U.S. Postal Service is facing unprecedented challenges and political threats even while it is an essential lifeline for millions of Americans, especially those isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic," the People for the American Way stated this week as they launched a new video celebrating the USPS and calling for its protection.