I don’t have to tell my vast reading public (all five of you!) that Dictator Donny is trying to destroy the U.S. Postal Service in order to keep Democrats from voting. After all, he has said so publicly. The USPS even wrote to 46 states in July to warn that mail-in ballots for the presidential election may not be delivered in time to be counted.
The attempt to destroy the ability of the Post Office to function on the eve of the presidential election is just one of Trump’s many blatant, destructive and unconstitutional attempts to destroy democracy and rig the election. (As my 82-year-old mother said to me the other day, there is at least one thing Donny has said that is actually true: that the 2020 presidential election will be the most rigged election in history—except of course he is the one rigging it.)
There is a lot of information floating around about what people can do to help save the Post Office, and preserve the right to vote by mail, but the information is scattered and difficult to find and to vet. So I am bringing together in one place a list of actions you can take if you think it’s wrong that our own government is deliberately slowing down the mail; deactivating, removing, and disassembling multimillion-dollar mail sorting machines (and perhaps even destroying them, as Rachel Maddow reported on August 14, though I have not been able to confirm that anywhere else); and even removing mailboxes from street corners to keep you from being able to safely vote by mail in the midst of a deadly pandemic (though of course the Trump Administration denies this is the reason, and says that removing underused mailboxes or those in need of repair or subject to theft is simply business as usual).
BREAKING NEWS: Before I could finish this blog post, the Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, announced on August 18 that he would suspend the Postal Service’s so-called “cost-cutting measures” until after the November election. This shows that pressure works! (It doesn’t hurt that a coalition of states was getting ready to file a lawsuit charging that the changes could undermine the election.) Nonetheless, you may still want to let your government representatives know where you stand. After all, this doesn’t mean that DeJoy is going to reverse the damage that has already been done. And there is still the issue of providing governmental funding for the Post Office—which the House is coming out of recess to address, but which the Republican-led Senate and the President are loathe to do.
If you have other information about concrete steps people can take to help save the Post Office or ensure the right to vote, please provide them in the comments. I’ll keep updating this blog as I am made aware of additional relevant resources.
ACTIONS TO TAKE TO SAVE THE POST OFFICE
Contact Your Representative and Senators
Write to your member of the House of Representatives and to your U.S. Senators to register your complaint about what has been happening to the Post Office. This is important even if your Representative or Senator agrees with you. They keep track of constituent messages, and it helps if they are able to say that they have heard from x number of a constituents. If they don’t hear from you, they won’t know you care about this issue.
You can find your Representative here. (When I put in my address, it actually pulled up three possibilities, so the search engine isn’t perfect. If the same thing happens to you, you can look at this Congressional Districts Map to get a more accurate result.) When you get to your Representative’s home page, there should be a contact link. If you prefer to call (also very effective!), you can find phone numbers of every member of the House of Representatives here.
You can find your Senators here. If you click on the link for a Senator’s name, you’ll arrive at their home page, where there should be a contact link. You can also find contact details for all U.S. Senators here.
You can also use a platform such as those provided by Indivisible or the American Postal Workers Union to find and call or write to your representative.
Don’t want to call or write? Go to this link and you can easily make a video, post it to social media and tag your representative.
Update: Here is a really easy way to contact your representatives. Text USPS to 50409 (which will put you in touch with RESISTBOT), and it will help you generate a letter to your representatives to demand protection for the US Postal Service. Just follow the prompts! It took me less than two minutes (including some waiting time at the outset—I guess they’re seeing a lot of interest!). Note that you can also use RESISTBOT to contact your representatives about any other issue you like.
Send an Email to the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service.
The U.S. Postal Service is governed by a Board of Governors. Members of the Board are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governors, in turn, select the Postmaster General (at least in theory—does anyone think Trump had nothing to do with installing DeJoy, who was a major donor to his campaign?).
Let’s flood their email boxes with messages asking them to save the Post Office. This really shouldn’t be a partisan issue—Republicans and Democrats alike should be aghast at what is happening. One acquaintance of mine sent the following message:
Here are the relevant addresses that you can cut and paste into an email:
Should You Buy Stamps to Support the Post Office?
For several months, as the financial crisis facing the Postal Service has become all the more dire, there have been many calls for people to buy stamps as a way of injecting funds into the USPS. It’s a nice idea, but financially it won’t make a dent in the need.
Part of why the USPS is in such bad shape is that in 2006, Congress passed a law requiring the agency to fund 75 years of retiree health benefits—in essence funding benefits for people who have not yet even been born. However, buying stamps isn’t enough to bail out the Post Office. As one expert has explained, “If Americans were to buy 1 billion first class stamps — about 4 per household — it would constitute a resounding vote of confidence and support. On the other hand, it would generate only about $500 million [in revenue]. Most observers believe the post office needs an immediate injection of $25 billion. Only Congress can make that happen.”
Still, it’s a nice idea, and if nothing else it’s a way to show your support. And precisely because most of us rarely use stamps anymore, it’s nice to have some around the house when you suddenly need one on an urgent basis. You can buy stamps online at USPS.com.
ACTIONS TO TAKE TO ENSURE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE
Join a Phone Bank or a Texting Platform to Help Get Out The Vote
Texting is an effective way to reach voters these days and there are many organizations that provide platforms that let you send texts from your computer. Phone banks are still around, too, and you can participate from home (though personally I never answer calls anymore unless I recognize the number, and I think that’s true of a lot of people nowadays). There are also organizations that can guide you in engaging in social media campaigns, provide the technology for you to make your own video, or use volunteers in other capacities.
These online and phone “campaigns” aren’t necessarily partisan. In some cases, you may simply be contacting people with neutral reminders to, for example, respond to the census, or register to vote.
Here are just a few organizations to check out:
When We All Vote (nonpartisan organization with a mission to increase participation in voting)
Election Protection – 866 Our Vote (national, nonpartisan coalition working year-round to protect the right to vote)
2020 Victory Team (sponsored by the Democratic National Committee)
Resistance Labs (progressive grassroots organization with a mission to stop Trump and rebuild the Democratic Party from the bottom up)
Indivisible (progressive grassroots organization working to beat Trump and save democracy)
Biden-Harris Virtual Phone Banks (allows you to make calls to voters on behalf of the Biden-Harris campaign)
Plan Your Vote
In her speech on the first night of the Democratic convention, Michelle Obama advised people going to the polls on November 3 to plan ahead: wear comfortable shoes, bring a bottle of water, bring a brown bag dinner and maybe even a breakfast.
In other words, whether you vote in person or by mail, voting is not going to be easy this year. Polling places may be closed, understaffed or disorganized; the Postal Service may not deliver ballots in time; and all manner of voter suppression efforts will be in full swing. If you plan to vote by mail, it will be critical to mail in your ballot (or take it to a drop box or to the Board of Elections office) as soon as you possibly can.
For all of these reasons, it will be important to plan how you are going to vote. Will you vote in person? Will you depend on the mail? Will you attempt to drop off your absentee ballot at your local Board of Elections office (and if so, will they be prepared to accept your ballot)?
Below are some resources that may help.
How to Vote In The 2020 Election: A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19 (FiveThirtyEight)
Plan Your Vote: How to Vote by Mail and Register to Vote in Each State (NBC News)
If You’re Young, Consider Becoming a Poll Worker on November 3.
Approximately 60 percent of the people who work in the polls on Election Day are over 60 years old, which means they are in the highest-risk group for COVID-19. So this year, there are efforts to recruit young people, who are not as susceptible to the virus, to take their place.
If you or a friend or family member are young and would like to help by becoming a poll worker, go to this link to get started. You will be helping to ensure that the polls are well-staffed, and safe for voters.
10 Things to Know About Trump’s Post Office Scandal (BillMoyers.com)