Voting by Mail in These Uncertain Times
A perspective by: Mary Alice Martinez, Retired USPS Postmaster
The United States Postal Service has been entrusted to deliver mail to patriotic, American citizens for the past two centuries. The motto of the Postal Service of “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Postmasters also take an oath to solemnly swear “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, to protect the U.S. against all foreign and domestic enemies, be faithful and allegiant to the U.S., take this oath freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and to faithfully discharge the ‘duties of the office’ of their job.” The integrity of the mail process is sacred among postal employees from processing clerks, mail carriers, window clerks, postmasters, administrators, postal inspectors, and ultimately to the postmaster general. There is also public trust that American citizens place towards the USPS to ensure security and sanctity of their mail. When this public trust is undermined and the USPS is being sabotaged by the Trump administration, it is crystal clear that the motive is a political one. How else does one justify closing mail processing plants in key states that will delay mail for the November election and prevent relief funds to help the USPS.
The appointment of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is a ploy to further erode the US Postal Service and go towards privatization. Trump claims that this 2020 election will be fraudulent in the history of the United States by using mail in ballots which is false. If anything, he is afraid that that the voter turnout by mail will be in favor of the Democrats and he will do anything necessary to prevent the USPS from delivering the mail in ballots. If Trump’s claims are true, why were Civil War soldiers allowed to vote by mail in the 1864 election? Although the contributing vote was in favor of President Lincoln, the mail in vote was utilized and valid.
It would be an enormous impact to destroy the USPS which has over 40,000 post offices in the United States and the nation’s largest civilian employer of 500,000 career workers. Each year, there is 212 billion pieces of mail delivered to over 144 million homes by carriers, planes, and even mules! As a retired postmaster, I take it personally when the integrity and sanctity of the United States Postal Service is under attack. During elections, we took great pride in processing of mail in ballots. We upgraded and handled mail in ballots with great care to ensure delivery in a secure and timely manner. It was our American duty to handle all mail and especially ballot mail with the utmost care and consideration. It is true today as it was when I handled the mail.Postal employees are dedicated and serve with integrity and great pride. There are also many veterans that are employed with the USPS and have extended their service to their country by working for the USPS.
In 2016, one quarter of votes cast were mail in or absentee ballots! We must do everything to stop this tyranny and end this suppression of mail in voting discreditation. As Trump claims, there is no evidence to prove that voting by mail is fraudulent. I have faith in the US Postal Inspectors, postal governing board, postmasters, postal employees, and American Postal Workers Union to safely and securely handle the election ballots. We must contact our U.S. congressional and senate leaders in our perspective states to ensure the USPS is able to do their jobs in handling the mail if given needed funding. We must contact the U.S. Postmaster General and let him know that we want the USPS to be able to continue to provide these vital services to the American people. We must also find out in each state the deadlines for early voting, deadlines for mailing in ballots, and request ballots.
I have faith in Presidential candidate Joe Biden and Vice- Presidential candidate Kamala Harris to uphold this American institution of the United States Postal Service and to continue to support the Voting Rights Act. During these unprecedented times of COVID-19, we must have the right to vote in the manner we feel is safe and secure and to not be intimated by this administration. We should be allowed to have continued faith in the USPS system of mail delivery and know that our votes will make that needed change. This is the America that will ensure our freedoms and ensure our democracy.