For my family, United States road trips were always a summer staple. Each year brought new adventures and experiences as we traversed the country. We visited small towns and big cities. We drove through Trump country and saw places where Democratic lawn signs dot the landscape. From Alaska to Florida, Hawaii to Maine, I have visited all 50 states and seen not only the differences in our nation but also the similarities, such as our use of the post office.
Anywhere you go in this country, you will notice the post office. From the blue mailboxes along the road to the distinct white, cubed postal trucks to the hundreds of thousands of dedicated postal carriers working rain or shine to deliver for us, the post office is universal.
Over the past few months, we have seen a coordinated attack on the post office by the Trump administration. The head of the post office, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, has been trying to gut the post office. He has directed a major overhaul of the post office, including slashing overtime, reducing business hours at certain locations and removing mail sorting machines.
These changes have resulted in a major slowdown in the delivery of mail, a major concern given that millions of voters are expected to vote by mail in the November election. This slowdown of the post office is part of a concerted effort by Trump to disenfranchise voters and prevent Democrats from voting. Democrats are statistically more likely to vote by mail, so it makes sense that Trump does not want these people to vote. Recently, the postal service confirmed these fears by informing 46 states that they won’t have the capacity to deliver ballots on time.
Since these letters were sent, there has been a major outcry about the impact that these changes will have on the election. Twenty-one state attorney generals, including the Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, threatened to sue over the changes. Due to this backlash, the postmaster general reversed the plan until after the election.
While this is a great development, we cannot let it distract us from the overall attack on the post office by Republicans. For decades, Republicans have attempted to dismantle and privatize the post office — a downright terrible idea. The post office employs more than 600,000 Americans who serve the entire country. For many rural communities, private companies such as FedEx and UPS do not serve them. The U.S. Postal Service is so important for delivering medication and keeping people connected, especially during the pandemic.
There are many things we can do to help protect the post office. Buying stamps and other items from the post office can help to fund them. You can also call your legislators to ask them to support the post office and continue to properly fund this critical organization.
There is also a lot that Michiganders can do to help guarantee that we can safely vote and ensure that our votes are counted. Michigan is one of the states that will likely see record-breaking numbers of voters casting absentee ballots. Since the passage of Proposal 3 in 2018, any Michigan voters can vote absentee without an excuse. In the August primary this year, 1.6 million voters cast an absentee ballot — more than any other in Michigan history. The 2020 election is expected to far surpass this, leading to major concerns about the capacity of the post office. In the August primary, over 6,000 ballots were rejected because they were received after Election Day. If you want to avoid any issues with the post office, there are a few options that you can take to ensure that your vote is counted if you want to vote absentee.
You should request your absentee ballot sooner rather than later. Instead of mailing back your ballot, you can deliver directly to your clerk’s office or leave it in an absentee ballot dropbox. There is a plan to have a dropbox put on the University of Michigan’s Central and North Campuses, making it easier for students to deliver their absentee ballots.
As we look to November and beyond, we must remain committed to protecting our postal service in order to protect not only our elections but one of the most important governmental organizations that always delivers for all of us.
Isabelle Schindler can be reached at email@example.com.