How Is USPS Preparing For The 2020 Election?


Due to the current explosion of Covid-19 cases in the United States, the use of traditional, in-person voting practices can be dangerous for all voters, especially those who are at high risk, in the upcoming 2020 Election. The heightened fear of contracting the virus at polling stations amongst the general public means the United States Postal Service (USPS) is expecting far more mail-in voters than usual. Such an unprecedented situation raises major questions about how the large quantities of mail-in votes will be counted.

According to the USPS website, voters should submit their ballots as early as possible in order to avoid delivery delays, with the latest date being 15 days prior to the election: Giving the USPS time to process and mail the millions of ballots is paramount in ensuring the election runs smoothly. One important feature of this process is the 2020 Official Election Mail Kit, which makes it easier for first-time mail-in voters. It is common that new voters by mail make simple mistakes that cause their ballots to be invalid, which has already become an issue while preparing to vote in this year’s election. This kit does not include the actual ballot, but it includes a plethora of important information about the steps involved in casting a vote via mail. For this official information, visit the USPS page explaining the kits in more detail.

Despite these precautions, USPS still has warned 46 states that it is possible for their voters to not get their votes counted due to delays. One of the major issues interfering with their capability to prepare is the dire financial situation at the USPS, with the contributing factor to this crisis being the rise in Amazon purchases and the fact that the cost of running the postal service is outpacing its revenue.

The postal service, despite being a part of the government, is designed to run on the revenue generated by the use of mailing services instead of taxes. The USPS was not generating enough money to meet the budget cost, forcing them to have to decrease their budget and therefore lose resources. The loss in funding has catalyzed delays of up to a week in mail delivery, and for the shutting off of ten percent of sorting machines. The potential damage this could cause on Voting Day is unimaginable. Rising concern over the loss of millions of potential votes has led many to suggest for the USPS to receive emergency funding in order to keep their sorting machines running.

President Trump has denied emergency funding for USPS, saying that mail-in voting causes widespread voter fraud. Many have accused him of using the USPS slowdown as a form of voter suppression, seen as to how more Democrats plan on voting by mail than Republicans. His rebuttal to these claims is that Democrats are trying to spin the election in their favor by encouraging voter fraud in favor of the Democratic candidates.

Although some states have not released statements on criteria for mail-in voting or potential policy changes, these are the current policies: About 78 percent of American voters live in the 43 states (plus D.C.) with policies that either allow absentee ballots for all or mail them automatically, some of these states being Florida, California, and Massachusetts. However, seven states, including New York, Texas, and South Carolina, include the 22 percent of voters that require an excuse for an absentee ballot, making it much harder for these citizens to cast their ballots.

For more information, visit this article by the New York Times for more information on this specific issue. CNBC offers many updates on the USPS and mail-in voting, and the official USPS website has many resources providing official information.