By: GIANNA LUGLIANI
As the Coronavirus continues to plague the United States with no foreseeable end, the 2020 presidential election will undeniably undergo some changes regarding the voting process. Many American citizens will have to resort to voting through mail-in ballots this year in order to protect their health and limit the further spread of the disease. However, in the midst of these already unpredictable times, changes to the post office system are now threatening to make it even more difficult to get votes sent in this fall.
In an attempt to slash costs in its budget, the U.S. postal service recently decided to cut down on the amount of mail-sorting machines in use. This decision was made as a way to comply with the diminishing number of letters being sent as there becomes more of a dominance in mailing packages instead. This is a result of the copious amount of online orders that have increased dramatically during the pandemic. About ten percent of these sorting machines throughout the nation were set to be put out of use until public outcry caused the plan to be postponed until after the election. Making a major system change like this would slow down the rate of letters being received, and therefore create major issues in the polling process this year. Adding to this, photos of blue mailboxes being removed off the streets have been spreading across the internet. Many people have theorized this to be related to President Trump’s announcement that he would be withholding funding from the post office in an effort to limit voting by mail to avoid an increase in voter fraud. Trump had recently voiced his opposition to universal mail-in ballots for the election, stating, “They want three and a half billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent, that’s election money basically. They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes.” He has since decided to block this necessary boost in funding, but he did allow a coronavirus relief bill to pass that included some support for the postal service.
To clear up the confusion, the postal service has pledged to wait until after the election to implement these changes involving the sorting machines. USPS spokesman Rod Spurgeon has spoken about the issue, telling NBC news, “We are not going to be removing any boxes… After the election, we’re going to take a look at operations and see what we need and don’t need.” This insinuates that these changes did not have as much to do with the election as people may have thought, and were instead just a way to update the mailing system. Although these sorting machines are not being removed just yet, it is still very important to mail in absentee ballots as early as possible to ensure they will be received by November 3rd, especially since there will be such an increased surge in voting by mail this year.