Elections

No, the Postal Service Isn’t Stealing the Election

Postal Service trucks in Manhasset, N.Y., in 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

The latest five-alarm fire in Washington is over a supposed plot to disfranchise voters centered on the United States Postal Service.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi states flatly that President Trump is waging a “campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters.” She calls Trump’s appointee, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy “a complicit crony,” and says that his changes, according to the postal service itself, “threaten to deny the ability of eligible Americans to cast their votes through the mail in the upcoming elections in a timely fashion.”

Two Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are calling for a criminal probe of DeJoy, and progressive Twitter is out in force highlighting any mailbox put out of commission as a sign of looming totalitarianism. DeJoy has agreed to testify before a House committee next week, an opportunity to tamp down the maelstrom.

As usual in such controversies, the president has said stupid and alarming things that stoke a hysteria that is immune to fact or reason.

There were already suspicions regarding changes to the postal service’s operations when Trump said last week that if Democrats didn’t get the money they seek for the postal service, there can be no universal mail-in voting. But, as Byron York of the Washington Examiner points out, the $25 billion for the postal service in the latest COVID-relief bill passed by the House was meant as a general bailout that had nothing to do with processing mail-in ballots. The bill has another $3.6 billion for something called the Election Assistance Commission that would go, not to the postal service, but to states “for contingency planning, preparation, and resilience of elections for federal office.”

Trump confused the two pots of money and made it sound like widespread mail-in balloting couldn’t happen without the additional funding, although there’s no reason to think this is true.

Given that the postal service delivers almost 3 billion pieces of mail a week, it is going to be able to handle any surge in mail-in voting, a proverbial drop in the bucket. What the postal service warned of last week is that some states have deadlines for mail-balloting that are too close to Election Day to allow a cushion for a reliable delivery, an admonition meant to ensure that mail-in voting works as intended.

That said, it’s not as though the postal service is in robust condition. It was struggling from decreased mail volume even prior to the onset of the COVID crisis, which made its condition even more precarious.

There were delays in mail-in balloting in the primaries before DeJoy showed up in June. (DeJoy is a Trump donor, but he had success with shipping and logistics in his business career and was unanimously approved by the postal service Board of Governors.) The changes that have drawn such fevered criticism are all commonsensical.

Collection boxes that don’t get a lot of use are routinely decommissioned or moved. The postal service has stopped this practice for now, in reaction to the panic engendered whenever an image of a box getting removed appears on social media. The service has also been deactivating sorting machines for the types of mail that have been in decline, a plan that was in place prior to DeJoy’s arrival. According to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, this will be paused until after the election, too. DeJoy has begun implementing another reform to try to cut down on routine overtime expenses by changing how mail goes out for delivery, a good-government measure that shouldn’t be controversial.

We have met the enemy, and it is not the United States Postal Service.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Replacing Ginsburg

While we did not agree with many of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views about the Constitution or the judicial function, we never doubted her industry, dedication, gumption, civility, or patriotism. We send our condolences to all who mourn her passing. Justice Ginsburg almost certainly had more fans than any ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Replacing Ginsburg

While we did not agree with many of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views about the Constitution or the judicial function, we never doubted her industry, dedication, gumption, civility, or patriotism. We send our condolences to all who mourn her passing. Justice Ginsburg almost certainly had more fans than any ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Barr Is Right About the Prosecution Power

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech at Hillsdale College on Wednesday that attracted a lot of attention. Much of that attention was for his ill-considered remark (in a question-and-answer session following the speech) that "Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, [the pandemic lockdowns ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Barr Is Right About the Prosecution Power

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech at Hillsdale College on Wednesday that attracted a lot of attention. Much of that attention was for his ill-considered remark (in a question-and-answer session following the speech) that "Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, [the pandemic lockdowns ... Read More

Snobs or Mobs?

A   lot of us were feeling pretty good about the future of the media in late September of 2004. Dan Rather and the CBS news division had just tried to derail George W. Bush’s reelection campaign with some genuine fake news — based on fake documents — and, in spite of the manful attempts of ... Read More

Snobs or Mobs?

A   lot of us were feeling pretty good about the future of the media in late September of 2004. Dan Rather and the CBS news division had just tried to derail George W. Bush’s reelection campaign with some genuine fake news — based on fake documents — and, in spite of the manful attempts of ... Read More

The Mystery of Robert E. Lee

No one who ever met Robert Edward Lee -- whatever the circumstances of the meeting -- failed to be impressed by the man. From his earliest days as a cadet at West Point, through 25 years as an officer in the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers and six more as a senior cavalry officer, and then as the supreme ... Read More

The Mystery of Robert E. Lee

No one who ever met Robert Edward Lee -- whatever the circumstances of the meeting -- failed to be impressed by the man. From his earliest days as a cadet at West Point, through 25 years as an officer in the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers and six more as a senior cavalry officer, and then as the supreme ... Read More
World

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More
World

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More
Film & TV

The Convictions of Jim Caviezel

‘I didn't get invited by Hollywood to come to this industry,” actor Jim Caviezel says. It was God — not the executives, the talent agents, nor the filmmakers — that gave him his acting talent. “God believed in me, that He wanted me to be an actor. I felt it in my heart very deeply.” A man of deep ... Read More
Film & TV

The Convictions of Jim Caviezel

‘I didn't get invited by Hollywood to come to this industry,” actor Jim Caviezel says. It was God — not the executives, the talent agents, nor the filmmakers — that gave him his acting talent. “God believed in me, that He wanted me to be an actor. I felt it in my heart very deeply.” A man of deep ... Read More