By Robert Brandon and S. David Fineman | August 23, 2020
Since our country’s infancy, the ability to deliver and receive mail has been essential. It’s why the United States Postal Service is part of our Constitution.
The Founders recognized the invaluable role the Postal Service played in the creation of America and would continue to play far into the future as a service to everyone. This is why its Board of Governors is made up of appointees from both parties, and it is why, until recently, the Postal Service acted without interference from the White House.
Now, the threat to cut the Postal Service's funding is a threat to every American who relies on its service and to the values the United States was founded on.
The Postal Service is central to our nation’s highest ideals of democracy and equality. Even as communication via the internet and social media increasingly dominates our lives, for millions of Americans, the Postal Service remains a crucial lifeline.
Private delivery companies serve only certain areas when they have a delivery or pick-up — and don’t deliver at all to some rural parts of the country. The Postal Service reaches every mailbox in the country six days a week, whether you are rich or poor, urban or rural.
These realities make the need for adequate funding for the USPS even more urgent.
Vote-by-mail is essential service
Amid the pandemic, the centrality of Postal Service to our democracy has become clear as demand for vote-by-mail surges in states across the nation, leading to an overall spike in voter turnout.
Vote-by-mail isn’t new; the mail has played a key role in our elections since the Civil War, ensuring that Americans who aren’t able to get to the polls in person, including the elderly and members of the military, can still cast ballots.
Several states, including Utah and Washington, have conducted elections entirely by mail for years. Mail delivery is secure and reliable, which is why USPS is tasked with delivering tax refunds and unemployment checks.
Americans deserve to know that their absentee ballots will be received and counted on time. Unfortunately, recent cuts to the Postal Service will make those efforts much more difficult.
'Pause' doesn't go far enough
Although Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has “paused” his forced reduction of extra delivery trips and removal of mail sorting machines and drop boxes, those policies should be reversed, as the House called for in a bipartisan bill passed Saturday. And warnings he sent to 46 states that their mail ballots would not arrive on time should be rescinded.
At the same time, it is essential that Congress fully fund the Postal Service.
The Postal Service, which delivers nearly 500 million pieces of mail six days a week, is fully capable of handling a massive increase in mail-in voting and helping to ensure that all voters have their voices heard in the upcoming elections — but only with the proper funding and support.
Supporting the Postal Service is not a Democratic or Republican value; it’s an American value. It’s encouraging to see members of both parties speak out against the recent cuts, but words aren’t enough. Congress must act now to provide additional funding for the USPS and defend against future cutbacks.
We’re encouraged that the House returned early from its recess to address this crisis; Americans should demand that the Senate do the same.
For the sake of our democracy, our economy and the future stability of our society, the mail must be delivered.
Robert Brandon is chief executive and president of Fair Elections Center. S. David Fineman is former chair of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors and is board chair for Fair Elections Center.
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