Maybe not snow, rain, heat or gloom of night, but what about Trump?
August 14, 2020 4:42 PM   Subscribe

There are some serious shenanigans going on at the postal service. Most recently, it's been reported that a large number of high-speed sorting machines are being taken out of service. This comes directly on the heels of an advisory that mail-in ballots may be delayed.

Trump is notorious for claiming that Amazon is getting too good of a deal from the Post Office, and his Postmaster General has some ethical issues to answer for, but the delays point to a more serious concern: will Trump sabotage the Post Office to undermine the election, either by disenfranchising voters or by claiming fraud when it becomes clear there are many uncounted ballot?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll (175 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
S̶N̶O̶W̶
R̶A̶I̶N̶
H̶E̶A̶T̶
N̶I̶G̶H̶T̶
F̶A̶S̶C̶I̶S̶M̶.

Nothing stops the mail.

apwu.org/savepostoffice
posted by Ahmad Khani at 4:52 PM on August 14 [22 favorites]


I read this earlier today, likely from Kottke.org, thoughts from a mail carrier on this whole shitshow: After a couple hundred years it just stopped.

I learned this fact which I didn't know before and I was confused about how this crisis suddenly went into overdrive:
"A few months ago our Postmaster General Megan Brennan retired. She was a postal lifer, and got a lot of respect for that, but she was also a pretty ineffectual bureaucrat whose primary accomplishment as PMG seemed to be ignoring Donald Trump’s temper tantrums. It seemed to really bother the guy that he had no official authority over USPS, so pretty much every time The Washington Post ran a mean story about Donald, he’d publicly scream at Brennan to jack up Amazon package prices to get back at Jeff Bezos. To the bitter end of her career she just...ignored him. She was the Pelé of that shit.

That’s where Louis DeJoy enters as our new Postmaster General."
Here's the USPS announcement of her retirement including the process that was supposed to name her esteemed successor. Checks and balances for the win, again?

Edited to add: Board of Governors
posted by amanda at 4:54 PM on August 14 [27 favorites]


If Trump loses, then the Postmaster General is going to prison, right?
posted by rdr at 4:55 PM on August 14 [15 favorites]


Any time I read or hear about this I have to take a buspar. These days my anxiety is through the roof.
posted by Splunge at 4:55 PM on August 14 [24 favorites]


Comments on Reddit are generally of the "Shit, there's actually no way to stop this.". That hopelessness has 81 days to really fester into something the US hasn't seen before. I think the Trump regime pulled the trigger on this (however effective it is in the long term) waaaaay too early.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:09 PM on August 14 [11 favorites]


I moved last week and signed up for Informed Delivery for the first time in my life. Every day, I get an email with scans of the front of the mail coming that day. Despite getting the email every day this week, I haven’t gotten any mail since Tuesday.

This has the potential to make a lot of Americans extremely pissed off. Great job as always, Donnie.
posted by Automocar at 5:15 PM on August 14 [38 favorites]


At a certain point you have to accept that this is America and the freedom and meritocracy stuff was fake.
posted by krisjohn at 5:18 PM on August 14 [30 favorites]


And how long until a new phone app connects voters with real mail safety concerns and fellow users that collect and deposit ballots daily and way early? Jus' sayin'
posted by Freedomboy at 5:26 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


This kind of thing is why I'm convinced that Trump is going to win in a rigged landslide. God, I hope I'm wrong, but...

I even wrote my lawmaker people, who immediately put me on their mailing lists and said "we're working on it."
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:29 PM on August 14 [5 favorites]


The plant where I work lost one of our flat sorter machines, and we're already seeing the results. I am not looking forward to this election season.
posted by Roger Pittman at 5:30 PM on August 14 [42 favorites]


Is this why it took a week for my USPS package to get from LA to SF? Or was that just covid?
posted by ryanrs at 5:31 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


I don't get it - surely the post office is a key linchpin of the economy? You know, the one governments are trying to keep going?
posted by jjderooy at 5:32 PM on August 14 [10 favorites]


The plant where I work lost one of our flat sorter machines, and we're already seeing the results. I am not looking forward to this election season.
posted by Roger Pittman


Hey, it's good to have an actual USPS worker in the thread. Would be curious for any more observations / opinions / insights if you feel like sharing.
posted by saturday_morning at 5:33 PM on August 14 [35 favorites]


By sabotaging the USPS, Donald Trump is disenfranchising the military.

Full Disclosure: I am an Albany County, NY Inspector of Elections. (Poll Worker).

I think context is important, so bear with me while I set the stage. In the 2016 Presidential Election, Hilary Clinton got 3,000,000+ more votes than Donald Trump, but about 70,000 votes in a few vulnerable states were enough to swing their elector's votes. Whether or not the electoral college is good or bad isn't part of this analysis. It's what we got, and it's what we got to deal with.

So, the solution is to massively GOTV so that there are no edge cases to exploit. Even prior to COVID-19, there were polling sites that were underequipped, so that any failures resulted in a DDOS, and people needed to wait hours to cast their ballots. Which is not acceptable. Voting should take no longer than 30 minutes entry-to-exit, including handling exceptions.

So when the opportunity to go to absentee ballots 4 all as a logical response to the COVID-19 pandemic AND eliminating the potential bottleneck of underequipped/undedrstaffed/undersized polling places, for those who believe in free and fair elections, it was a Good Thing.

But some people, who don't want as many eligible voters to cast ballots as possible, don't like the idea of absentee ballots 4 all, and decided to rail agianst "mail-in voting", on the ostensible grounds that by sending out ballots to all the registered voters, fraud will occur. This belief ignores the reality that ( speaking from a NYS POV ) only ballots returned, which are verified to the same standard as a ballot cast in a polling location, are recorded. But I do not expect rational thought from irrational people whose only goal is to "own the libs at any cost"

So that brings us to today. And speaking to NYS procedures, if you're now not comfortable with absentee ballots 4 all, we offer EARLY VOTING, where you can visit a polling location and cast your ballot conventionally at various sites in the county up to a week before the election. Hours vary, so check your local BOE's website.
posted by mikelieman at 5:37 PM on August 14 [39 favorites]


here was my post on this :P

"If you ever agreed to it you'd never have a Republican elected..."
Why We're Planning For An Election Day That Could Last Months - "Election Day isn't one day anymore. The 2020 election is shaping up to be a whole 'election month' — or even election months, depending how things go. Instead of Americans going to the polls en masse on Nov. 3, many voters will probably make their decisions and cast their ballots over the course of October. And instead of learning who won on election night, we'll likely have to wait days — or in some states, weeks — for full results, as the counting of mail ballots proceeds at a much slower pace than we are accustomed to."
It’s dizzying enough to keep up with all of the changes and deadlines in your state — let alone across the entire nation. So FiveThirtyEight is doing it for you. Today we’re proud to unveil our new state-by-state guide on how to vote in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., which not only aggregates these changes by state and category but is also a compendium of election laws that existed before the pandemic even started.
How to Vote in the 2020 Election
A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19
First and foremost, this is a public service project meant to help voters navigate the latest voting rules in their state. Maybe you feel more comfortable voting by mail this year, but you’re not sure how; we’ll tell you how to request an absentee ballot (and mail it back in time to count). Maybe you prefer voting in person; we’ve got info on whether polling places will be open as usual and when you might be able to vote early. Maybe you’re not even registered yet; we’ve got all you need to know about joining the rolls.
How FiveThirtyEight's 2020 Presidential Forecast Works — And What's Different Because Of COVID-19 - "It does not account for the possibility of extraconstitutional shenanigans by Trump or by anyone else, such as trying to prevent mail ballots from being counted."
-Our 2020 Election Forecast
-Nate Silver Introduces The 2020 Election Forecast
-Model Talk: How The 2020 Presidential Forecast Works
-How We Designed The Look Of Our 2020 Forecast
also btw...
  • He Predicted Trump's Win in 2016. Now He's Ready to Call 2020. - "In 1980, he developed a presidential prediction model that retrospectively accounted for 120 years of U.S. election history. Over the past four decades, his system has accurately called presidential victors, from Ronald Reagan in '84 to, well, Mr. Trump in 2016."
  • Kanye West Unveils His Presidential Platform - "West seemed to endorse the idea that he's in it to hurt the Democrats to the only reporter that he seems inclined to talk to, Randall Lane of Forbes. 'I'm not denying it; I just told you,' West texted back when Lane pressed him on the idea that West's campaign was going to serve as a spoiler against Biden. West currently polls nationally at around 2 percent."
  • The Election Could Be Chaotic. Why Is Trump Trying To Make It Worse? - "Held last weekend, the Puerto Rican gubernatorial primary may have raised the bar for the most turbulent election in a year already marked by plenty of baffling balloting. It's also a likely preview of what will happen across the rest of America in November."
Five Ways Trump And GOP Officials Are Undermining The Election Process - "I think it's totally appropriate for people to, well, freak out about the potential undermining of the electoral process by Trump and his allies."
The recent changes at the U.S. Postal Service that are slowing down mail delivery across the country are arguably the biggest threat to the American election system in 2020. If mail delivery continues to be slowed down, that creates two very important potential problems. First, in states where ballots must be received by officials before Election Day (33, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures), a slowed-down mail system could disenfranchise thousands and perhaps even millions of people. Secondly, a slower system creates the potential for a ton of ballots to arrive either just before, on or after Election Day, meaning that the counting of votes might stretch on for days or weeks and Americans wouldn’t know the winner of the presidential election for a long time. That’s not ideal in any circumstances, but particularly with a president like Trump who can’t be expected to wait for election results before trying to declare himself the winner.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a longtime GOP donor who has given more than $2 million over the last few years to Trump’s campaign and other Republican causes, says the changes he has made since taking his post in June are intended to reduce the USPS’s spending and make it more cost-efficient. I don’t have any proof he is lying, but it’s also doubtful that DeJoy would be candid about it if his real goal was complicating vote-by-mail systems and helping Trump win. Either way, it’s a strange decision to overhaul the mailing system in a way that appears to be making it harder to send things through USPS quickly when the U.S. will be relying on the Postal Service more than ever before as part of the electoral process...

If people’s mail-in ballots aren’t received until way after Election Day, and Trump and his allies are falsely suggesting that mail-in ballots are somewhat fraudulent anyway, that undermines the election results and creates the potential for Trump to try to remain in office even if Biden is the rightful victor.
What Really Scares Voting Experts About the Postal Service - "Late last month, the Postal Service sent letters to election administrators in certain states, including Washington, Pennsylvania, and Florida, warning them that their deadlines for requesting and returning mail ballots 'may be incongruous with the Postal Service's delivery standards.'"
Democrats have urged voters for months to cast ballots by mail as a way to participate safely during the pandemic. Now they’re saying that Trump is sabotaging the Postal Service—questioning whether the mail can still be trusted.

Can it? I asked Connolly. Yes, he replied. “It’s really important that we not fall into the Trump trap that you can’t trust the Postal Service to handle your ballot. That’s a false narrative,” he said. “There’s no reason to believe that. There are complications because of what DeJoy is doing.”

If there is a cause for optimism, Patrick noted that the solution to the Postal Service uncertainty is largely in voters’ hands. Because of the pandemic, most states now allow voters to request their ballots well in advance and send them in weeks before November 3. “You don’t want to wait,” Patrick said. She added, with a laugh: “Leave nothing to chance!”
more... Donald Trump is trying to steal the election - "So here we have a postal service that has been hamstrung at every turn by the president, whose crony running the agency has turned it into a shambles, and which will almost certainly struggle to get ballots delivered in a timely fashion. We also have a president who is notorious for lying, cheating, and stealing; who is far behind in the polls; who may well face prosecution after leaving office on account of the crimes he has confessed to doing; and whose campaign has sued Nevada over switching to universal vote-by-mail, as well as Pennsylvania to stop the state from setting up vote drop boxes. It doesn't take a master detective to put the pieces together on this one."

Trump Is Hobbling the Mail the Old-Fashioned Way - "The president and his allies are bringing politics back into the Postal Service—and putting the election at risk."
Past efforts to politicize the mail service were overt. According to the “spoils system” that President Andrew Jackson—whom Trump admires most among his predecessors—established soon after his election in 1828, the party that won the White House gained the right to award tens of thousands of postal jobs to its supporters, thus securing their loyalty and zeal. The postmaster general—inevitably a political crony and fixer eager to do the president’s bidding—became a Cabinet member who oversaw this immense patronage scheme. To shore up his political base, Jackson replaced the postmaster general he inherited from his rival, President John Quincy Adams, with wheeler-dealers who executed a “rotation in office” policy. Jackson’s inexperienced Democratic loyalists replaced many seasoned postal workers who had supported Adams. The strategy also markedly worsened service in the anti-Jacksonian Northeast. Though the spoils system was reviled through the decades by defenders of good government, attempts to reform it—such as the Pendleton Act of 1883, which, among other things, mandated merit-based employment for clerks and carriers in certain post offices—failed to uproot the patronage that supported America’s two major political parties for nearly a century and a half.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon finally ended the spoils system by signing the Postal Reorganization Act. The law turned what had been the Post Office Department into the modern USPS. This government-business hybrid is run by a board of governors nominated by the president and confirmed with the Senate’s advice and consent, and a professional postmaster general chosen by that board.

Recent precedent had favored candidates with a demonstrable commitment to the agency and its work. Of the five people who have held the top office this century, four rose through the ranks: William Henderson (1998–2001), John Potter (2001–2010), Patrick Donahoe (2010–2015), and Meaghan Brennan (2015–2020). The sole exception has been DeJoy, a former logistics-industry CEO who gave millions of dollars to the Republican Party, including the Trump campaign.
Benjamin Franklin: America's First Postmaster General - "In his autobiography, Franklin wrote that he accepted the post readily, 'and found it of great advantage; for, tho' the salary was small, it facilitated the correspondence that improv'd my newspaper, increas'd the number demanded, as well as the advertisements to be inserted, so that it came to afford me a considerable income.'"
posted by kliuless at 5:38 PM on August 14 [104 favorites]


In a year when it's not possible to take an international vacation, these moves by the toddler tyrant are kind of like getting a free trip to Belarus.
posted by PhineasGage at 5:45 PM on August 14 [24 favorites]


This kind of thing is why I'm convinced that Trump is going to win in a rigged landslide.

Trump is going to declare victory on Election Night no matter what the status of the vote count is. If Biden is leading, he is going to claim that it's because of "rigged" votes, and he will still claim to be the winner. He'll then go to the plan of having State legislators certify Trump electors in disputed GOP-controlled states. If, as seems certainly possible, the winner is unclear on Election Night, he wants to be in a position where a count trending to or going to Biden can be called "stealing the election", treating his illegitimate victory declaration as a fait accompli. Poisoning the well re: mail-in voting is obviously preparation for this. And if he is leading in the in-person vote that has been counted on Tuesday, this strategy seems even more obvious.

I know that it is very important to some people here not to be exposed to what you call "doomsaying", but think about this for a minute. This is actually happening. What would you do if you were Trump? What evidence is there that Trump has any interest at all in submitting to the outcome of a free and fair election? There is none.
posted by thelonius at 5:48 PM on August 14 [91 favorites]


One way you can support the USPS is to buy stamps! You can get them online now at https://store.usps.com/store/home, then use them at your leisure. I just bought several sheets of postcard stamps for use with https://postcardstovoters.org campaigns!
posted by Tsuga at 5:52 PM on August 14 [15 favorites]


At a certain point you have to accept that this is America and the freedom and meritocracy stuff was fake.

What a horrifically defeatist attitude. No, I absolutely will not accept the mass disenfranchisement of the American populace. Plenty of people have *already* been on the streets protesting disenfranchisement, starting decades ago and again this spring.

No, instead, we do the following:
1) Vote. As early as you can if you're doing absentee, by dropbox if your state lets you, in-person early if your state lets you, etc. See other posts above for how.

2) Call your national reps, senate and house, today to complain. This link will get you numbers for your senators. This link will get you your house rep, by zip code. Ask for a statement as to what they're doing to protect the election and the postal service.

3) Call your state legislators too; they are also on the ballot, and especially if they're in a close election they aren't going to want suspicion over the vote. Ask what they are doing, and ask what the state elections board is doing, to make sure your state elections are free, fair, and adequately supported by the post office. Ballotpedia can help you find them.

4) Get ready to mobilize. If ballots haven't arrived in your state by a timely day, get in the streets then; don't wait for election day and hope it'll somehow all work out.

5) Post here if you know of other ways to help (maybe there's an organization suing that could have an effect? maybe there's a group lobbying congress? let all of us know!). And tell everyone you know, now, what they can do to help.

The only way we get to keep the freedom and meritocracy stuff (the parts we do have, and bring about the bits we don't) is if we get the fuck out there and grab it. Metaphorically via phone for now, and physically with our bodies if we have to.
posted by nat at 5:53 PM on August 14 [71 favorites]


I don't get it - surely the post office is a key linchpin of the economy? You know, the one governments are trying to keep going?

Don’t worry, it’s only temporary. After November somehow the money will flow again, no matter who the election goes to.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:03 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


About a month ago, maybe I reread Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. I joked to my husband that I was reading a fantasy novel: a con man decides to use his powers to improve government bureaucracy and provide services that the private sector is failing at providing.

Now, it's just...kind of depressing to think about. I hand delivered my request for my primary and general election absentee ballots, and plan to hand deliver them back. And I live in a town where I know the postal workers and carriers and the election clerk.

Meanwhile, the state GOP "accidentally" sent out mailers for people to use to request absentee ballots with the wrong address to a very unclear list of folks (we got one, addressed to someone who's never lived in our house, as far as I can tell). The wrong address just so happened to be one of the big college towns, so you not only have people sending requests to the wrong place, but it's also causing problems for the town clerk there, who's promised to send the cards along to the right towns.

I'll be doing what I can here to GOTV, and they have actually relaxed some of the voting rules thanks to COVID, but, it's feeling a little hard right now to be honest.
posted by damayanti at 6:12 PM on August 14 [7 favorites]


Thanks, Tsuga. I will be buying extra stamps this month.
posted by Brian B. at 6:13 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


My dad retired from the Air Force after 20+ years, then got a job at the Post Office. He had to mop floors for 6 months after he got hired so he could get trained on the maintenance of those machines. (He'd been teaching Electronics classes at the local community college, so he knew his stuff.) I remember going down in the middle of the night in the 90s and having him show me around those sorting machines while he pointed out how they worked and what was involved in fixing them. He retired from the Post Office at 76! Those machines are absolute marvels, and this feels so oddly personal.

I'm betting the next talking point from the right is how they were obsolete or it's a practical measure due to low mail volume. That's horseshit as usual because they are not obsolete, they are needed even with a lesser mail volume and the PO has a lot of incredibly talented people who keep them running well. The right is going to back their naked emperor all the way, and cheat this election every way they possibly can.

I'm furious about this.
posted by Catblack at 6:25 PM on August 14 [51 favorites]


What a horrifically defeatist attitude.

It’s not a horrifically defeatist attitude to recognize that “the freedom and meritocracy” stuff was for white people. Trump is literally suppressing the vote so that a minority of people in this country (white people) can maintain power.

Yes, I realize white people are not literally a minority, but the point stands.
posted by Automocar at 6:34 PM on August 14 [13 favorites]


So many people getting prescriptions by mail—this is literally going to kill people. And that's the thing: the GOP doesn't care if you live or die, as long as they stay in power.

Trump is going to set the country on fire in an effort to remain in office. We have to keep opposing him with every fibre of our being. If I were leading marches, I'd surround the Post Offices in addition to demonstrating in front of police precincts.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:36 PM on August 14 [23 favorites]


It's impossible to say what's going to happen with this appalling situation over the next few weeks, but it's worth remembering that there are organizations who help fight the good fight on these things.

The ACLU doesn't seem to have announced any actions against the federal shenanigans yet, but they've been filing lots of lawsuits to make it easier to vote by mail in several states.

AARP has been publishing state-specific info for voting by mail all year, and given their focus on safe voting during the pandemic, including absentee ballots, they'll probably be lobbying to get this fixed as well.

Non-profit newsroom ProPublica has a good round-up on what's been going on.

I've seen news reports about attacks on voting by mail being a potential threat to Republican candidates - many older voters are already habitual vote-by-mail participants - so this attack on a functioning postal service has some Republican candidates worried about the fallout as well.

All of which is to say: this is extremely serious, and extremely worrying. But there are organizations out there who will be fighting this with us, and supporting those organizations might be one good way to cope with the worry. Also, this is a great issue to contact your legislators about, whether they're Democrats or Republicans - Republican candidates want whatever mail-in votes they might get, and at least some of them are fact-based enough to know that vote by mail doesn't favor one party over another.
posted by kristi at 6:54 PM on August 14 [19 favorites]


One way you can support the USPS is to buy stamps! You can get them online now at https://store.usps.com/store/home, then use them at your leisure.

The postal service accounts for stamps as unearned revenue. This means your purchase doesn't really benefit USPS until the stamps are sent through the mail. If you buy stamps, try to use them in relatively short order so that your purchase can make a difference. A great way to use them is to send letters to congress to complain about how the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 puts USPS into unreasonable debt.
posted by donut_princess at 6:58 PM on August 14 [42 favorites]


I don't get it - surely the post office is a key linchpin of the economy? You know, the one governments are trying to keep going?

We have Fedex, UPS, and that company that Amazon uses for Prime delivery, so what's the problem?

(Note: I do not actually believe this, but I suspect it is what those in power believe.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:06 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


A tweet from Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.: "Tonight I’ve made a criminal referral to the New Jersey Attorney General asking him to empanel a grand jury to look at subversion of NJ election laws by donald trump, louis dejoy, and other trump officials in their accelerating arson of the post office."
posted by May Kasahara at 7:07 PM on August 14 [74 favorites]


the thing about all this is that it's a pandora's box. even if somehow trump fails at stealing the election, all of these tricks, including sabotaging mail-in voting, are now out there and normalized (for republicans). and then next time they push it even a little bit farther, until very soon it's tanks in the streets. short of convincing the 30% of trumpy voters who are cool with these tactics of the error of their ways, i don't have a solution. protests are great but it doesnt solve the underlying problem that millions of your fellow citizens want the govt to disenfranchise you.
posted by wibari at 7:14 PM on August 14 [11 favorites]


By sabotaging the USPS, Donald Trump is disenfranchising the military.

Maybe the military could do something about that.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:21 PM on August 14 [12 favorites]


I think the small businesses are going to speak out about this sooner rather than later.

They already are - my company ordered a set of hard hats from someone in late July, and then another set in early August. The ones in August have arrived - they were shipped via UPS - while the ones from July have not; the delivery status shows that they are at a USPS facility and pending delivery.

When I called the company to ask about what might be happening, they flat-out, in these exact words, told me "It's because of the new postmaster general." They were placing the delivery delay SQUARELY in the lap of the cancellation of overtime, and were very free in telling me that some of their customers were experiencing delays of two weeks. There was no attempt at any kind of customer-service softening of the truth or pat cover story - it was just flat-out, the postmaster general is fucking things up, period.

That won't be something businesses put up with for long.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:24 PM on August 14 [40 favorites]


One thing you can do RIGHT NOW is (a) ensure that you are registered to vote and (b) request your mail-in ballot today. I am a US citizen living abroad and completed (a) a few weeks ago and did (b) earlier today. This all happened online. Within an hour or so of requesting my mail-in ballot, I received an email response from the chief elections officer of the relevant county informing me that my ballot should arrive no later than September 18. This means I will mail my ballot no later than September 19.

I read an article (in today's Washington Post, I think) saying that the US Post Office expects the problem of delayed ballots to most likely impact those that are not sent until the last week of October.

If you plan to vote by mail, get this process started today! And spread the word. It is not too late to keep your republic.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 7:26 PM on August 14 [14 favorites]


A month ago, no one knew who the hell Louis DeJoy was, now he's runner up to be the most hated man in America and the Inspector General is looking into his finances. Considering all the guy wanted to do was privatize the post office, not be the focus of revolution, I say he cuts his losses and runs. It would be nice if on the way out, he said to Trump, "And we would have gotten away with it, if you didn't have the need to tell everyone the nefarious schemes you were up to, so everyone would say that you were a genius", but we can't have everything.
posted by dannyboybell at 7:36 PM on August 14 [7 favorites]


Trump signals openness to compromise on USPS funding (Politico)
Saloni Sharma, a Warren spokesperson, said: “We have learned that the United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General is investigating all aspects of our request from August 7th and that they’ve already requested documents as part of the review.” CNN first reported the IG's investigation and also reported earlier this week that DeJoy has a major equity stake worth between $30 million and $75 million in his old company XPO Logistics, a contractor that does work for USPS and other parts of the government.

[...] Former President Barack Obama said Friday that Trump was trying to "actively kneecap" the Postal Service in an effort to discourage voting. Obama said Trump's hostility toward expanding funding for the Postal Service were "unique to modern political history."

[...] The National Association of Letter Carriers also leveled criticism at the Trump administration, writing in a statement Friday that the administration had been hostile to the Postal Service and its workers' bargaining rights. The postal workers union cited a history of efforts by the administration to privatize the Postal Service and cut back services. The union endorsed Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for the November election in its Friday statement. "This pandemic threatens the very survival of USPS," the union wrote. "Yet, while postal employees are on the front lines providing essential services to the public every day, the current administration refuses to provide the necessary financial relief that would strengthen the agency during this pandemic."
Obama denounces Trump bid to deter voters with attack on post office (Guardian)
In letters to 46 states, and the District of Columbia, the USPS has warned that it could not guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted – possibly affecting tens of millions of votes across almost the whole country. The news was reported first in the Washington Post. [...] One of the letters was sent to Pennsylvania’s top official overseeing elections, warning that a one-week turnaround for mail-in ballots may not be possible. [...] The mounting concerns over the democratic process have been fueled by an apparent slowdown in activity by the USPS, which is headed by a Trump appointee. The USPS plans to remove hundreds of high-volume mail processing machines across the country, ostensibly due to a reduction in letters and packages sent during the pandemic.
posted by katra at 7:40 PM on August 14 [7 favorites]


Here's the main question I have which I literally cannot find the answer to: who is in charge of ensuring universal access to voting in USA, including the mandate to provide adequate voting mechanisms and protecting the processes?

1. The Federal Election Commission oversees campaign finance only.

2. The Department of Homeland Security does have a Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, but even though it released a document titled Mail In Voting Infrastructure Risk Assessment (pdf), that document focuses entirely on analyzing external threat risks like hackers, fraudsters, disinformation campaigns about voting procedures, and voter roll tampering. Ensuring access for all is not mentioned in the services provided by this agency.

Who is ensuring that people have the physical ability to vote? Is there any department or office or task force that's tasked with ensuring, for instance, that there must be a polling station within X miles of every Y square miles containing Z residents? There has to be one, right, even if Trump has installed his cronies there, as everywhere else? But I literally cannot find out whose job it's supposed to be, right now, to say "HEY HANG ON THIS IS A VIOLATION OF SECTION 11 PARAGRAPH C OF THE ELECTION CODE, IT'S ILLEGAL AF". In fact I see people saying this isn't illegal at all, but it's in the constitution that everyone must be able to vote, so...????
posted by MiraK at 7:54 PM on August 14 [6 favorites]


A high-powered lawyer friend tonight said that other State AGs are likely following suit with New Jersey. States have their own laws against tampering with the administration of elections. Of course none of these cases will be adjudicated in the next 83 days, but it's safe to say that a lot of the toadies who are currently abetting efforts to kneecap the USPS will be a lot less enthusiastic when they realize they could be facing state prison time, which is beyond the pardon reach of the President.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:56 PM on August 14 [26 favorites]


There is no federal authority that runs elections. That's a state and local function.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:56 PM on August 14 [24 favorites]


The number of pictures I've seen on Twitter today of mail boxes all over the country being carted away is appalling. If the excuse they are using is because of low volume of mail maybe an avalanche of snail mail would be a way of demonstrating just how necessary the postal service is? I mean, it's not just ballots they're holding up. Just how draconian are they prepared to get? (Stupid Question)
posted by h00py at 8:03 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


So are the people that pay for those spam mailers going to be looking for their money back or...?
posted by Slackermagee at 8:06 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


We have Fedex, UPS, and that company that Amazon uses for Prime delivery, so what's the problem?

All these companies hand off the last mile for certain services to the Post Office and hand off all deliveries in certain areas to the Post Office.

I mean Prime Delivery is great and all, but if your not in one of the top 100 or so metro areas, your out of luck since the volumes are such Amazon doesn’t think it’s profitable.
posted by jmauro at 8:08 PM on August 14 [9 favorites]


Hmm, thanks PhineasGage. I suppose the corollary to my question is also: is it not illegal for a sitting president to tamper with election integrity? (Even if current circumstances don't actually qualify as illegal, I'm asking in general.) What are the mechanisms for stopping tampering that's happening at a federal level?
posted by MiraK at 8:12 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


What are the mechanisms for stopping tampering that's happening at a federal level?

Tampering by the President? Impeachment. That’s it.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:13 PM on August 14 [16 favorites]


Actually, jmauro, Amazon hands the last mile off to a company called "Lazership" more often than not. I wish they'd use the Postal Service, and in fact I have repeatedly told Amazon this, and threatened to withdraw my Prime membership three times now, because Lazership delivery agents are dumber than a box of hair.

(They've misdelivered packages to the wrong addresses up and down my block for years now, and at my own building they keep on insisting on delivering packages "to the side door of your house", despite the fact that a) I live in a brownstone so the whole building doesn't belong to me anyway, and b) the "side door" they're trying to deliver things to is actually a garbage dump.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 PM on August 14 [6 favorites]


Tampering by the President? Impeachment. That’s it.

Wow. That's... incredible. This is blowing my mind; the possibility of despots seems like kind of an obvious consideration for the Founders (and everyone since) to overlook! I suppose states being relatively powerful and autonomous was meant to balance that, but damn.
posted by MiraK at 8:23 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]


It’s not a horrifically defeatist attitude to recognize that “the freedom and meritocracy” stuff was for white people.

That's normal conservatism. Not Trump kakistocracy.

For me there's nothing about Trump and the now Trumpist GOP that makes me think that there's any identity that will be privileged, only connections to power's whims and wills.

There's a wide stripe of conservatism that's basically the idea of privilege and power for "us" and subjugation for "them" -- you know, the usual "protect the ingroup, bind the outgroup" stuff. But I think it was an Ian Danskin's/Innuendo studios that made the case that by the time conservatism levels up into fascism, the hunger for an enemy to blame/fight is usually too great to control, so "us" gets smaller and smaller and "them" gets bigger and bigger. Extra true in situations where competence is scarce and so there's extra need to throw some of "us' under the bus.

Which is exactly where we are. The moral corruption of the Republican party that's been eating away at it for a long time has eventually eaten even its meritocracy. There are no other merits within its corrupt ranks other than victory and power.

Trump's America isn't even safe for white people. It's not safe for anyone those who wield power that Trump might be actually scared of, and maybe a few really committed and lucky suck-ups. The leopards will be feasting on a lot of faces.
posted by wildblueyonder at 8:35 PM on August 14 [27 favorites]


I see a lot of stuff in the news (msnbc, cnn) where the various talking heads are going on about how astonishing it is that the president appears to be deliberately screwing with the USPS in order to suppress voting, but none of them seem to see why he's doing this, other than to speculate it's because he wants to win. But why does he want to win so badly, considering he appears to be pretty miserable? His current corruption is driven by his prior corruption. He is a desperate man. He is desperate because he knows that he faces criminal prosecution and probably jail time the second he ceases to be president. He will do anything to remain president. He is a cornered animal.
posted by smcameron at 8:35 PM on August 14 [20 favorites]


Wow. That's... incredible. This is blowing my mind; the possibility of despots seems like kind of an obvious consideration for the Founders (and everyone since) to overlook!

Mail-in ballots weren't really much of a thing before the Civil War, if memory serves, and most people vote at polling places even today. So this particular way of exploiting control of the Post Office is kind of a new flaw, similar to how the shift to electronic voting machines has opened up new security concerns. Historically most presidents simply weren't presented with the option to tamper in this way.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:41 PM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Postal Service warns 46 states their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots (WaPo / Seattle Times reprint)
In response to the Postal Service’s warnings, a few states have quickly moved deadlines — forcing voters to request or cast ballots earlier, or deciding to delay tabulating results while waiting for more ballots to arrive. [...] More than 60 lawsuits in at least two dozen states over the mechanics of mail-in voting are wending their way through the courts.

[...] Even without the emergency funding Trump vowed to block, postal workers can handle the country’s mail-in ballots with proper planning, the head of their union said. “Piece of cake for postal workers,” said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union. [...] Mail carriers, meanwhile, have warned that new cost-cutting measures at the USPS are slowing the delivery of mail ballots in key states. Recent contests have offered a preview of the potential consequences, with voters — particularly in urban areas such as Detroit and the Bronx — complaining that their absentee ballots did not arrive until the last minute or at all. The problems predate the cost-cutting measures — a late returned ballot was the chief reason absentee or mail ballots were disqualified during the 2016 election, according to U.S. Election Assistance Commission data submitted to Congress. But the onslaught of vote-by-mail ballots, driven by directives to stay at home and practice social distancing during the pandemic, has increased the volume of delays this year.

[...] According to the letters, the risk of disenfranchisement is greatest for voters who wait until close to Election Day to request or cast a ballot. The letters advised 31 states that regardless of their deadlines, voters should mail ballots no later than Oct. 27 — a week before Election Day — if they want to guarantee they are counted. Elections officials across the country are also installing drop boxes for completed ballots and encouraging voters to use them in lieu of the Postal Service.
posted by katra at 8:43 PM on August 14


What evidence is there that Trump has any interest at all in submitting to the outcome of a free and fair election? There is none.
posted by thelonius


And a mountain of evidence that he will never do so.
posted by Pouteria at 8:47 PM on August 14 [2 favorites]


Postal Service will stop removing mailboxes (WaPo)
The removal of dozens of mailboxes in a handful of states set off a social media panic and some high-profile attention this week, but the U.S. Postal Service said the iconic blue boxes are just being moved to higher-volume areas. The agency said it would stop removing the boxes nationally until after the election. “We are not going to be removing any boxes," USPS spokesman Rod Spurgeon told NBC News. "After the election, we’re going to take a look at operations and see what we need and don’t need.”

[...] “Given the other things that are going on, it’s okay to ask questions,” said David Becker, executive director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research. “The high-speed sorters that are getting deactivated, the loss of overtime, the delays in mail were seeing right now, all of this should cause some concern and warrants questions.”
posted by katra at 9:20 PM on August 14 [11 favorites]


I live in Oregon, and something that's rarely mentioned in vote-by-mail discussions is that even though voters here receive our ballots in the mail, we don't need to *return* them by mail.

Our ballots arrive about a month before each election. After we fill them out, we can either pop them in the mail or take them to an official drop site. There are usually secure large containers right outside the election offices, and there are often also dropboxes in libraries.

(And there are security and privacy measures. We get an email when our ballot is mailed to us – if it doesn't arrive, we can contact the election office. The ballots have interior privacy envelopes, so the election workers who open the envelope with your name on it don't see your voting choices. We get another email or text when our ballot is received and tallied. Plus, they take signature-matching seriously. I've heard of people who've had to go to the election offices because their signature – on the exterior envelope, separate from the ballot – looked too different from the one on file, or they forgot to sign it at all.)

I wish more Americans had access to this system – but in any state, if you're receiving a paper ballot in the mail, check to see if you have the option to hand-return it.
posted by lisa g at 10:09 PM on August 14 [21 favorites]


and probably jail time the second he ceases to be president.

He'll fly to Russia on Jan 15th.
posted by ctmf at 10:19 PM on August 14 [7 favorites]


I also wrote to elected officials about this. Every little bit counts.

Here's the Bills you can write or call about:

1. Delivering for America Act - this is the one to stop organizational changes until after the election. Contact Representatives about this.

2. USPS Fairness Act - this is the one that's been on Mitch McConnel's desk since February, it's a repeal of the 2006 law that requires the post office to pre-pay pensions AKA the only reason the USPS is not profitable. Contact Senators about this one.

3. HEROS Act - This is the coronavirus relief bill that includes $25 million for the USPS. Contact Senators and be clear that you want the USPS portion to be included.
posted by subdee at 10:40 PM on August 14 [29 favorites]


I live in Oregon, and something that's rarely mentioned in vote-by-mail discussions is that even though voters here receive our ballots in the mail, we don't need to *return* them by mail.

For example, I almost always turn my ballot into my local library, because I'm there every week or so. I'll be damned sure I turn it into the election office directly this year. I to wish folks had this system, but I'm pretty sure if Republicans are okay gutting the US postal service, shutting down libraries is going to be somewhere on the fascist bingo card.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:53 PM on August 14 [7 favorites]


So a vague bunch of political establishment types going by "Transition Integrity Project" gamed out a few scenarios and produced this report: Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition

Kinda seeming like it's either a strong Biden victory or crisis?

And there was this letter from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs during the more intense period of the ongoing unrest, which was a different situation, but seems hopeful in the event of crisis. I think there is irony that Trump's probably too dense to understand that letter and the depth of his failure as a President, getting rebuked by his military like that...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:59 PM on August 14 [6 favorites]


Oh I have many thoughts...

But what I’m hearing from my USPS friends, many unionized, that they believe their duty to keep the mail circulating is a sacred task and they are committed to making this happen despite the corrupt and illegal influence of the current feds. There are many other industries who feel this (public health, refugee support, etc). Let’s remember all those who stayed at their posts and did their jobs, out of duty and bravery, when this all over. They deserve a lot of gratitude.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:13 PM on August 14 [84 favorites]


I can guarantee that, in the likely event that there is violence at polling places because of people having undue difficulty voting, Trump will claim that the people involved hate freedom. You know, all those freedom-hating people willing to resort to violence solely so they can exercise their freedom?
posted by BiggerJ at 11:41 PM on August 14


I think the comments about this being too soon and backfiring on Trump are accurate. That said, they've already junked a lot of the sorting machines they pulled. Damage like that won't be fixed before the election.

In the end, we're all going to reorganize and adapt and figure out other ways to vote against the fucker, and Trump and the GOP will focus on fighting that instead. By November, this will be a memory... and the USPS will still be in ruins.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:47 PM on August 14 [3 favorites]


I'm a permanent overseas voter, and I'm basically assuming I won't get a vote this year.

I have two parcels on their way to me in Australia, from two different people in California (one priority international express, one international first class mail), sent several weeks ago via usps that have basically disappeared, the latest tracking event for the priority "express" was two weeks ago and the other was a month ago. That doesn't bode well for getting a ballot to me, and back to the u.s. in time to be counted.

California is offering ballot tracking (via some service called ballottrax). I'm thinking of signing up for alerts so at least I know when it was sent and counted.
posted by milkcrateman at 12:18 AM on August 15 [5 favorites]


I have work contacts at NZ Post and they told me that as of a couple of weeks ago, they were waiting on some bulk shipments from USPS that had been waiting since May. Whatever is happening because of these appalling initiatives, COVID19 is screwing up international post terribly, since there are far fewer passenger flights, and they used to carry a lot of mail and parcels. Tbere just isn't enough air freight capacity right now. So serving US citizens overseas was going to be difficult already.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:43 AM on August 15 [11 favorites]


Yeah, agreed much of it is due to covid19 and things were a mess already. Australia reducing the number of passenger flights into the country a few weeks ago definitely made things worse. Just frustrating to have problems with the usps itself added on top of an already bad situation.
posted by milkcrateman at 1:24 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Milkcrateman (and any other US folks overseas!)

Plan to use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot if you're at all worried about your ballot not arriving.

It's a PDF of a totally blank ballot you fill in with choices for federal and state offices and in some states, your votes on measures/propositions. If your official absentee ballot arrives too late but you've already sent this one off, they'll count this one; if your official absentee ballot arrives on time and gets back in time, they'll count that one. You'll never be double-counted.

It's still anonymous - you seal the ballot inside its own envelope, then enclose that envelope inside a larger one with your information on it, and mail it off. The instructions on how to seal/print it are on the PDF below.

Some states have special requirements. The Federal Voting Assistance Program site is here if you'd like more info. https://www.fvap.gov/

The PDF itself is here, with notes for states/territories with special rules: https://www.fvap.gov/uploads/FVAP/Forms/fwab.pdf
posted by mdonley at 2:08 AM on August 15 [33 favorites]


I hope there is a box to drop ballots off this year. Normally it's at the library but ours is closed except for curbside. I wonder if it would be allowed to be outside?
I do live in a state that according to this mostly is safe, but still.

I have to arrange to mail a bunch of important documents for work soon and even before this that has always been a train wreck of "did not receive." And now we can't offer pickup as an option either. Joy.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:40 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Looks like the Republicans behind the Lincoln Project have shown their true colors, by way of the USPS.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:49 AM on August 15 [4 favorites]


> "... in any state, if you're receiving a paper ballot in the mail, check to see if you have the option to hand-return it."

Absolutely do check this, but ...

Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says voters will only have one drop box in their county to deliver their absentee ballot

Ashtabula County is more than 700 square miles, to give you an idea of what that means.
posted by kyrademon at 2:51 AM on August 15 [9 favorites]




On the personal side, I got my request for mail-in-ballot letter, and in a fit of conscientiousness, I sent it back the next day.

Little did I know that some of them went out with return envelopes to the wrong address, so I didn't even look at the return envelope.

I live in Philadelphia. Is there anything I can or should do to find out whether the request is going where it should? What if it isn't?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:55 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


As a viewer in Australia, I can’t afford to have Trump stuffing up the U.S. for another FOUR YEARS. He has GOT TO GO. Seriously.
posted by panaceanot at 5:35 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Nancy Lebovitz,
PA residents can check their mail in request status here: https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/BallotTracking.aspx
posted by Eddie Mars at 6:18 AM on August 15 [7 favorites]




So, the big sorting machines process regular envelope-sized letters, and not bigger envelopes (like absentee ballots). So ballot processing isn't directly affected by taking them out (also apparently they're terrifying to work on). But you still have to sort all those letters somehow, so it's an overall reduction in processing capacity.

The Postal Service delivers 181.9 million pieces of First Class mail, and 472.1 million pieces of mail overall, per day. They already delivered census forms (and multiple associated mailers) to every American, this year. They do Christmas every year. There's no good reason they shouldn't be able to handle the volume of mail-in ballots, if given anywhere near the resources needed to do so. It shouldn't be an overwhelming challenge; just a regular-sized one.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:12 AM on August 15 [10 favorites]


If anyone has any questions about where/how to vote or where/how to drop off their absentee ballot, I'm more than happy to investigate for you. I am an elected Precinct Executive in my county and I can navigate the fuck out of election websites and language, and I have people I can get in touch with if necessary.
posted by cooker girl at 8:31 AM on August 15 [33 favorites]


who is in charge of ensuring universal access to voting in USA

No one, really, because weirdly the US doesn't have universal suffrage in its national constitution. That's largely a historical artifact of our history when it was only white men who were allowed to vote. Voting is a matter for each state to manage on its own. Even significant changes to this structure like the 14th Amendment don't guarantee a right to vote, but rather specify penalties to a state that denies their citizens the right to vote. The 19th Amendment merely says both sexes must be treated the same.

It's not really until 1964 that the Supreme Court recognizes a One Man, One Vote principle, with the Voting Right Act swiftly codifying that. But it's been undermined significantly since then, particularly in 2013 with an absolutely terrible Supreme Court decision. The DoJ under Trump has unsurprisingly not taken on much voter rights protection and in a few cases appears to have been used to suppress the vote.

Back on topic, we're a long long long way from a federal right to vote-by-mail. I mean, until a few years ago that seemed unnecessary to say. Of course no president would subvert the entire Postal Service to steal an election. No one would be so visibly corrupt.

If all this makes you angry, it should! Here's some places you can give money to help protect the vote this year. The Brennan Center does a lot of policy wonk work and monitoring of elections. ACLU has a very active voting rights arm. Fair Fight, Stacey Abrams' voting rights organization, does a lot of great work on the ground and is starting to expand outside Georgia. Also one function of the DNC is to monitor and ensure voting rights. You can donate directly to the party but I'm not sure if there's a way to earmark it specifically for voting rights.

Bonus link: familiarize yourself with the history of the Brooks Brothers Riot in 2000, when Republican thugs physically intimidated Miami vote counters to prevent them from counting the vote. I fear 2020 is going to be like that but in many places all at once. And this time some of the thugs might be carrying guns.
posted by Nelson at 8:43 AM on August 15 [13 favorites]


“Even if the ballots get through the post office, there will be mass challenges,” Palast explained. “That’s what Trump’s 50,000 strong volunteer army is for. It’s not for voter intimidation, it’s for challenging and canceling votes. Challenges to signatures — which cost 625,000 voters their vote in 2016 — quintuple that for this year. The Democrats will need an army to challenge the challenges.” He added, “As to the post office, Democrats better have plans for mass legal ballot harvesting to take vote straight into county election board officers. The post office must be bypassed at all costs which can be done in almost every state.”
posted by Brian B. at 9:05 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Contact info for the members of the USPS Board of Governors who have the power to fire DeJoy.
posted by stevil at 9:24 AM on August 15 [8 favorites]


People are feeling frustrated, understandably, and asking their reps to Do Something. Here's a Twitter thread rounding up what *is* being done.
posted by stevil at 9:26 AM on August 15 [4 favorites]


Just emailed the board of governors. Thank you for the contact information! This situation is so surreal.
posted by sucre at 9:46 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


People are feeling frustrated, understandably, and asking their reps to Do Something. Here's a Twitter thread rounding up what *is* being done.

Thank you Stevil. I have so much existential dread about Trump stealing the election and this is the first thing I've seen that gives me any hope. I so badly want to do something but I'm immunocomprimised and leaving the house to join a protest is not something I can do.
posted by photoslob at 9:49 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


This is absolutely terrifying. Trump has done many, many terrifying things to virtually every aspect of society while in office, but the prospect of him now being able to largely control the election by disenfranchising so many people is perhaps the most scary.

People who are more informed:
I'm thinking about trying to target some swing states near me to help GOTV. What is the best way of doing this? My current idea: would it be useful to target specific counties / areas, research their voting rules and create information pamphlets on the most secure way for these people to vote? I'm not sure I will be able to physically distribute them in these places, as I will be out of the country in September and October, but I'd like to help spread the information on how people can best get their voted counted. Thoughts?
posted by unid41 at 9:55 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


obvious consideration for the Founders (and everyone since) to overlook!

For a nation founded on democratic principles, there's surprisingly little in its foundational documents about preserving the integrity of the elections, and the dirty little secret of America's first 150 or so years is that low-level fraud was rampant and that nobody really did much about it, hoping that if both sides did it then it'd cancel out and if they ignored it maybe it would go away. It was pretty easy to cheat before careful identification of who was registered to vote where was established, because in a large enough recinct, there wasn't going to be a good record of who could vote there and who had already voted there or somewhere else. In the Gilded Age the practice of "colonization", which was shipping people across state lines to vote twice, was standard practice and might have swayed a few local and state elections. The infamous Tammany Hall machine of New York owed much of its success to kickbacks and support of specific constituencies, but they weren't above ballot fraud to get their way when they needed to.

In over a century of bullshit ranging from colonization to ballot-stuffing to losing ballot boxes inconveniently full of the wrong votes, the only fraud to really make an impact was the 1876 presidential election, in which it became expedient to point out that Samuel Tilden's narrow victory might have been somewhat attributable to the Southern practice of (a) stuffing boxes with Democratic votes wherever there were Democratic election officials, and (b) murdering black people and Republicans who tried to vote.
posted by jackbishop at 10:06 AM on August 15 [6 favorites]


unid41, the first thing you should do is reach out to Democratic parties in swing states. They likely have all that information already and have specific, targeted plans to get info to voters. The second thing you can do is sign up on Mobilize.us to phone/text bank people. You can find events by zip code. Third, you can volunteer to send postcards to swing states.

I cannot stress enough the importance of reaching out to local organizations. Voters hate, hate, HATE being harassed multiple times and local orgs have plans in place to prevent duplicate efforts.
posted by cooker girl at 10:06 AM on August 15 [3 favorites]


The hatred of the post office puts the lie to the "founders' intent" and all that BS. It's literally spelled out in the Constitution as a government function. But for the last 50 years it's been a semi-independent agency that's supposed to be self-funding via fees-for-service, then lambasted for having a poor business model.

I am really scared about the next 3 months, though the evidence that this hurts Democratic voters disproportionately is a bit thin. I hope it fargin' backfires.
posted by mark k at 10:08 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


I don't think it matters what voters it hurts. It hurts voting, and that's the goal. Discredit the process regardless of the result, and refuse to step down.
posted by notoriety public at 10:11 AM on August 15 [3 favorites]


Maybe we can launch "caravans" of ballot loaded vehicles rolling to the drop boxes. THAT would be on the news,.... better yet get Trump to try and "ban" them.
posted by Freedomboy at 10:21 AM on August 15


I thought about that, too, but having volunteers pick up a load of ballots to deliver direct to the board of elections is also dangerous: what if someone nefarious volunteers and dumps them all? Here in NC we had a US Rep candidate (guess which party) last time hire folks to go into nursing homes and "help" residents fill out their ballots. He happened to get caught, but I don't think it's a rare occurrance. The GOP is very clear in how they really feel about free and fair elections.
posted by rikschell at 10:56 AM on August 15 [4 favorites]


USPS Board of Governors

I mean do what you feel, but I'd be gobsmacked if that elks club-looking gaggle of lickspittle old wealthy white Republican Trump appointees (but I repeat myself) is any less complicit than DeJoy himself.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:20 AM on August 15 [12 favorites]


If Trump loses, then the Postmaster General is going to prison, right?

From Watergate to Iran-Contra to Bush 2, history just isn't on our side here.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:33 AM on August 15 [6 favorites]


I am really scared about the next 3 months, though the evidence that this hurts Democratic voters disproportionately is a bit thin. I hope it fargin' backfires.

The hopeful part is that these ballots only need to go to the county offices in most cases, which can be self-delivered. In the case of the post office, one would hope they have a bin to collect them all in one place without much special handling and deliver them next day.
posted by Brian B. at 11:44 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Here are some links collected by Jamie Zawinskie about the slow motion postal coup
posted by mecran01 at 11:52 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


It was always a good idea to say "hi!" and "thank you!" whenever seeing your local USPS delivery person, but now more than ever: thank them for their service.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:02 PM on August 15 [5 favorites]


The USPS Board of Governors link above now goes to a stub which said the tweet violated the rules... :/
posted by JoeXIII007 at 12:08 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Please don't offer to pick up loads of ballots unless you're authorized to do so from your Board of Elections. In most cases, doing so is illegal.
posted by cooker girl at 12:18 PM on August 15 [29 favorites]


Since that first tweet was deleted, here are the names and email addresses of the USPS Board of Governors, just in case anyone else would like to send each of them a polite, respectful letter making clear your views as a U.S. citizen and a patron of the USPS:

Robert Duncan:
mduncan@inezdepositbank.com
John Barger:
barger.jm@gmail.com
Ron Bloom:
ron.bloom@brookfield.com
Roman Martinez:
roman@rmiv.com
Donald Moak:
lee.moak@moakgroup.com
Wiliam Zollers:
directoraccessmailbox@cigna.com
posted by PhineasGage at 12:31 PM on August 15 [14 favorites]


For a nation founded on democratic principles

The USA wasn't founded on democratic principles; it was founded on republican principles, Those aren't the same thing, and most of the founders viewed democracy as mob rule. The goal wasn't democracy, it was elite oligarchy of white male landowners (the franchise in parliamentary elections in Britain being restricted to those who held freehold property worth 40 shillings a year or who met other restrictions relating to payment of rates and tithes, etc...it's worth remembering who actually HAD the "representation" that the colonists were whingeing about).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 2:35 PM on August 15 [7 favorites]


The Board of Governors were all appointed by Trump.

https://about.usps.com/who/leadership/board-governors/
posted by The Hamms Bear at 2:43 PM on August 15 [5 favorites]


(Missed the edit window to add a proper link because a record I purchased two days ago, and was shipped yesterday, just arrived on my porch.)
posted by The Hamms Bear at 2:53 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


The Board of Governors were all appointed by Trump.

Likewise, no person was appointed from 2010-2016.
Obama got 1 appointed in 2010, the rest were Bush holdovers. It seems that they could realistically have made appointments up to the end of 2015, and did not.
posted by StarkRoads at 5:26 PM on August 15 [4 favorites]


The Board of Governors were all appointed by Trump.

Wow, that’s nuts but it checks out. Any idea how they managed the rout?
posted by sjswitzer at 5:26 PM on August 15


The Trump reelection campaign has now sued Pennsylvania state and county elections officials, saying that the way mail ballot drop boxes were used in the primary was unconstitutional. They're asking a federal court to bar them in November.

The drop boxes were all supervised. This is madness.
posted by desuetude at 6:07 PM on August 15 [9 favorites]


A few days ago I emailed a German friend who is all excited about the Biden/Harris ticket: "Tr*mp is already publicly stating he is undermining the US Postal Service on purpose and fully expects to try to tie into legal knots any Biden-Harris victory tallies. I hope it doesn't feel inappropriate to you if I say I am terrified with the parallels to your own country's history in the 1930s."

Her reply: "The parallels are so obvious, it's absurd even to think there's people not realizing them."
posted by PhineasGage at 6:38 PM on August 15 [22 favorites]


The Board of Governors were all appointed by Trump. Likewise, no person was appointed from 2010-2016.

McConnell blocked all of Obama's appointees so that existing appointments expired, leaving the board open for all Trump replacements.

Just like McConnell did for judges.
posted by JackFlash at 7:35 PM on August 15 [22 favorites]


Bernie Sanders was apparently a huge part of the problem. He quietly placed holds on new appointments during the Obama years. In part because he wanted to force the USPS to provide banking services. And in part as a protest against the Republican privatization attack on the postal service. The Postal Workers Union had urged Sanders to take this measure. Unfortunately, Trump won and it backfired on everyone.

2015 article from Postal News.

2015 article from the Washington Post

2016 article from The Street about the Board of Governors being empty, with a paragraph about Bernie's role
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 10:11 PM on August 15 [13 favorites]


McConnell blocked all of Obama's appointees

McConnell had pretty much nothing to do with it. He was probably giddy as fuck when he saw most of the nominees Obama kept bringing him (more on that below).

Bernie Sanders was apparently a huge part of the problem.

LOL at Bernie being the "problem" here when he was apparently one of the only Congresspeople trying to actually save the USPS from Democratic sabotage. The fault here lies almost entirely with Obama, who refused to do anything but repeatedly nominate people who wouldn't have been out of place in Trump's BOG.

In part because he wanted to force the USPS to provide banking services. And in part as a protest against the Republican privatization attack on the postal service. The Postal Workers Union had urged Sanders to take this measure.

This massively undersells what was at stake because of Obama's malfeasance in deliberately choosing ghoulish payday lenders and rabidly anti-USPS extremists, and how much we should be thanking Sanders rather than rando MSNBC guests parroting talking points from the fascist pieces of shit at the Heritage Foundation. Also, Sanders was backed in this by not only unions, but civil rights groups such as the NAACP and La Raza and groups opposed to predatory banking practices:
It is our understanding that the Senate will consider as a package the four nominees approved by the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on May 6, 2015. Our organizations are in agreement that it would be preferable to continue with a stripped-down Board of Governors than to fill those vacancies with a slate that includes nominees whose policy stances would be harmful to the USPS and ultimately to the public it serves.

Given the harmful effects of payday lending on the communities we represent, and given the value of and need for a vibrant, public Postal Service that provides affordable, universal mail service to all – including rich and poor, rural and urban, without regard to age, nationality, race, or gender – we are especially troubled by the nominations of Mickey D. Barnett, who has previously worked as a lobbyist for the payday lending industry, and of James C. Miller, III, who dating back at least to his tenure as director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from 1985-88, has strongly supported privatizing the Postal Service.
Another nominee, Stephen Crawford, was a Democrat and part of Obama's transition team (i.e. not any sort of stranger that Obama or Dem leadership would have been unaware of), and he wanted to sabotage the postal unions to undermine workers, destroy public interest in USPS operations, reduce deliveries to homes (including ending Saturday delivery) by putting the burden on citizens, slash the USPS workforce, and minimize workers' pension and health benefits.

If anyone wants to choose the people most responsible for the current BOG mess, it isn't spoooooky leftist Bernie Sanders, and in this case it actually isn't the fault of GOP intransigence. Instead, it was a Democratic President and his enablers in the Dem leadership (special thanks go out to Biden's fellow DE Senator, weaselly centrist Tom Carper) who started out negotiations on the USPS with "compromise" nominees that would have given away the farm even when they didn't have to. This was an unforced error that came from the very top and was supported by people who definitely knew better, and it's not Sanders' fault nor is it his mess to clean up.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 5:46 AM on August 16 [21 favorites]


Warren Gunnels, Staff Director for Bernie: “The postal nominees that Bernie blocked were Republican white men picked by Mitch McConnell and opposed by the NAACP and the AFL-CIO because they wanted to privatize the Postal Service and represented the payday lending industry. I was the staffer who placed the hold.”

The Board can’t have more than five of the nine governors of the same political party, hence McConnell got to make some of the picks.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:31 AM on August 16 [6 favorites]


The Board can’t have more than five of the nine governors of the same political party, hence McConnell got to make some of the picks.

FWIW, I don't think Gunnels is saying McConnell is responsible for these assholes being nominated. That was all Obama, who should have known better than to do what McConnell asked him. I absolutely believe McConnell is evil incarnate, but no one forced Obama to pick some of the worst Republicans for the job or for his party's leadership to support their nominations. And that still doesn't explain the absolutely horrible Democratic choice (who, again, was a prominent member of Obama's transition team).

It strikes me as a kind of madness that, on the actual eve of the party's convention, prominent liberals are trying to paint Sanders as some sort of racist authoritarian and an enemy of democracy. There's nothing to be gained politically here apart from the satisfaction of hippy-punching, and it seems enormously counter-productive less than three months from the election that could decide whether or not the government goes Full Nazi.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:30 AM on August 16 [8 favorites]


I absolutely believe McConnell is evil incarnate, but no one forced Obama to pick some of the worst Republicans for the job or for his party's leadership to support their nominations. And that still doesn't explain the absolutely horrible Democratic choice (who, again, was a prominent member of Obama's transition team).

Gunnels does go on to say that Bernie opposed some of the other noms (presumably that Dem you mention) but didn’t put holds on them. Not sure what the distinction was there, maybe just that it would have been bad form to put a hold on a D nom. And I don’t know how this stuff works but I assume custom was for the admin in power to let the leader of the other party, McConnell, pick that party’s noms.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:16 AM on August 16


The USPS board of governors has a total of nine members of which only five can be from one political party. The board requires at least six members for a quorum to conduct any business.

In 2014 member terms had expired so that there was no longer a quorum to do business. Obama had to nominate Republican assholes in order to establish a quorum. If the Republican assholes were not approved by McConnell, then there would be no quorum.

As it happened, none of the nominees were approved, either because of Sanders hold or McConnell's hold. There has not been a quorum for five years.

So pick your poison, did you want the Republican assholes selected by Obama with a Democratic majority on the board or did you want the even worse Republican assholes selected by Trump with a Republican majority on the board. Either way, assholes it was going to be.
posted by JackFlash at 10:35 AM on August 16 [5 favorites]


Yes, Sanders past actions is a distraction from stopping Nazism yet blaming the current 2020 destruction of the post office by Trump on Obama is a fabulous use of time that could be spent fighting fascism.

And who here views Sanders as a spooooky leftist?
posted by chris24 at 10:39 AM on August 16


Why is USPS such a thirst-trap for assholes? What else do we need to understand here? Because deficit spending shows that Republicans don't care about debt. Is it diverting funding from USPS to funnel it into other more griftable pots? Is it purely voter disenfranchisement? Even during Bush/Gore, there were special exceptions made to allow military absentee voters to be able to have their votes counted in Florida. Presumably and nakedly to boost Bush over the re-count line. Gore went along with this because...it's the military and Dems fear looking like they would do anything to hurt the military. My point being, it seems that the USPS as a voter disenfranchisement mechanism has only really come into play in the last ten years but maybe I'm wrong?

So, what else makes people fight tooth and nail over this "plum" assignment to tear apart the USPS? Us villagers are just going, "Huh? The mail? It comes, right?"
posted by amanda at 10:46 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


The USPS board of governors has a total of nine members of which only five can be from one political party. The board requires at least six members for a quorum to conduct any business.

Hm. Well, they have six but all were appointed by Trump. Does that mean some of these were Republican and others were Democrat?
posted by amanda at 10:50 AM on August 16


So, what else makes people fight tooth and nail over this "plum" assignment to tear apart the USPS?

The American Postal Workers Union is 330,000 reliable Democratic votes. The postal service has historically been a stepping stone up to the middle class for minorities with good paying jobs with good benefits. The Republicans would like to destroy that.
posted by JackFlash at 10:53 AM on August 16 [21 favorites]


The post office employs 39% minorities and 40% women.
posted by chris24 at 10:56 AM on August 16 [11 favorites]


It's also hugely popular and shows government can work. Rs can't have that.
posted by chris24 at 10:57 AM on August 16 [16 favorites]


Well, they have six but all were appointed by Trump. Does that mean some of these were Republican and others were Democrat?

Counting the postmaster general, there are seven and two are Democrats appointed by Trump, so the Republicans have a 5/2 majority. At least one appointee must be a Democrat in order to have a quorum. The number of Democrats is irrelevant as long as the Republicans have a majority and a quorum.
posted by JackFlash at 11:03 AM on August 16 [2 favorites]




"Why is USPS such a thirst-trap for assholes?"

Probably connected with how when I read 101 stuff on socialism for US audiences, they almost always point to the Post Office as a functioning example of socialism. I should think it's a constant irritation to people who believe govt shouldn't operate businesses.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:31 PM on August 16 [2 favorites]


The post office proves that there is a place for something other than free-market capitalism. It's a service that is universal - even to rural "unprofitable" areas, can function without taxpayer money, and can provide good jobs with good benefits, even to people who maybe couldn't afford huge college debts, all while out competing the for-profit carriers. It just doesn't funnel money to shareholders and executives. If the mail can run this way, what other universally needed industries might work better under a different model? Health care? Consumer banking? Food distribution? Transportation? Telecommunications?

The post office's history of success is an existential threat to the idea that all industry and all services must be provided under a for-profit model where wealth is extracted upwards. That's why it's such a target. That, and no one's getting rich off it, of course.
posted by mrgoat at 1:11 PM on August 16 [38 favorites]


...all while out competing the for-profit carriers. It just doesn't funnel money to shareholders and executives.

Almost like the second thing is what allows the first.
posted by ctmf at 1:59 PM on August 16 [5 favorites]


This whole sabotage of the Postal Service is looking less like some devious well designed master plan and more just Trump's latest nonsense obsession. Based in part on these two articles. Pelosi to Recall House for Postal Service Vote as Democrats Press for DeJoy to Testify talks about how a bunch of Republicans are now nervous about the optics of destroying the USPS right now. The Chaotic, Desperate, Last-Minute Trump 2020 Reboot talks about Trump's personal chaos in his campaign and focusing on vote-by-mail as an irrational thing. Both articles also mention it's not really clear sabotaging the mail benefits Republicans more than Democrats.

Not saying there isn't danger or that the danger is past, but am saying sometimes I (we?) ascribe to Trump clever master plans when in fact it's often just unbridled id lashing out.
posted by Nelson at 8:19 PM on August 16 [7 favorites]


Yes, the early "maybe he is playing 4 dimensional chess" idea quickly proved fatuous. But he has been putting in place at least a few halfway-sane, effective people to gut environmental regulations, roadblock immigration, etc. Those folks have a deep interest in keeping Trump in office for their own ideological or craven reasons, so even if the toddler tyrant himself didn't have a sophisticated idea of gutting the USPS for his own nefarious ends, I'll bet a lot of the toadies around him had thought that through clearly.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:41 PM on August 16 [1 favorite]


So I don't actually ever talk about this, but a very close and dear relative of mine is the biggest postal lobbyist in Washington DC and he's been the biggest wig in postal lobbying for forty years now. He's extremely, extremely Republican (in the traditional, pre-Trump sense). He's actually meant to be retired. He's been on C-Span more since his retirement than in the decade previously, because Trump's assault on the USPS has been so egregious. Suddenly he's all over the WaPo and the talking head shows, and it's a bit weird for me because I've been listening to him talk about very boring postal arcana since I was a little kid, and now it's A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH FOR THE REPUBLIC.

Anyway, nobody loves the USPS as much as a true commerce-loving Republican (so, like, none of the current GOP). Like his whole thing is how without the USPS, the backbone of the shipping economy in the US completely disappears, and how UPS and FedEx and DHL and everybody else need to defer to the USPS, and without the USPS that all just collapses. But it's suuuuuuuuuuuper weird for me personally. But I also feel very good that all the GOP shipping lobbyists are out there busting heads because they stan the USPS.

(Like when I was a tiny little early teenaged Brow that had not yet become an amazing Unibrow, I used to listen to him get super pissed about the (then-proposed) Postal Accountability Act where they had to prepay all the pensions. Sometimes I had to go fetch the WaPo so he could see the latest thing he was going to be mad about. It's very, very, very weird to see your nerdiest, most boring relative (with potentially the evil-est job! Nobody thinks K-Street lobbyists go to heaven!) become a vital pundit in the salvation of the Republic.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:11 PM on August 16 [47 favorites]


mrgoat, it's exactly like every other public service, isn't it? Public schools, libraries, roads, bridges, parks. And on the other side of the same coin we're learning so many punishing lessons about what happens when we let public services go private: prisons, the military, telephony... and now USPS seems all set to become yet another object lesson.
posted by MiraK at 6:55 AM on August 17


Matt Bruenig has Some Thoughts on the US Postal Service. 1st 2 paragraphs:
The federal government currently owns significant non-financial enterprises in three sectors. There is the passenger rail company Amtrak. There are the electricity companies: Tennessee Valley Authority, Bonneville Power Administration, Southwestern Power Administration, Southeastern Power Administration, and Western Area Power Administration. And then there is the United States Postal Service (USPS), which provides services in the postal logistics sector.

The USPS has gotten a lot of attention lately as Donald Trump is attempting to muck it up in order to make mail-in voting more difficult and less credible. This attention has reopened a variety of latent debates about the USPS that I will opine on below.
posted by kingless at 11:03 AM on August 17 [1 favorite]


I just read this explainer from The Week about the history of regarding USPS through the lens of “run it like a business,” a phrase I would like to start conjuring the truth of that which includes: loads of inefficiency, cronyism, risk taking, bankruptcies, nepotism, stupidity, corruption, shoddy materials, endless failure and overly fatty foods. Anyway, The Postal Service Should not be a Business.
posted by amanda at 1:42 PM on August 17 [3 favorites]


Why is USPS such a thirst-trap for assholes?

It's because it is not maximally extractive capitalism. Hardcore Republicans these days seem to absolutely hate things that produce wealth multipliers for anyone other than owners and shareholders.
posted by srboisvert at 2:59 PM on August 17 [13 favorites]


As an overseas voter, I sent my ballots back via DHL. Yes it costs more but fuck it if I'm letting my vote not be counted. I did this in 2016, the primary this year, and will do it for November.

I realize not everyone can afford this but if you can, do it.

My state has online ballot tracking and all my ballots sent via DHL were received.
posted by affectionateborg at 4:29 AM on August 18 [1 favorite]


It's really good you checked, affectionateborg, and I'm relieved it was received (and presumably accepted).

I do want to note though for other citizens voting from outside the US: I help overseas voters register & send in their stuff and we are seeing ballots sent via DHL/FedEx/UPS get rejected by local officials. It seems to vary heavily by LEO. If you do go this route please do be sure double & triple check!!!
/psa
posted by peakes at 5:30 AM on August 18 [2 favorites]


Reports are coming in that DeJoy has backed off of his changes, postponing them until after the election. He announced this today in the face of 20 other states' announcing that they were planning to file suit against DeJoy over disruptions to the mail.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:20 AM on August 18 [3 favorites]


A number of mailboxes have already been removed from voting districts in swing states, probably not coincidentally. Backing off changes won't fix the damage that DeJoy and Trump have done.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:25 PM on August 18 [8 favorites]


And the sorting machines that have already been decommissioned.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:41 PM on August 18 [6 favorites]


A friend of mine had a vivid metaphor for what DeJoy is promising today. "He breaks both kneecaps and then promises not to break any more kneecaps."

He's already sabotaged the USPS, has been doing it for months. Some of the changes can be undone easily, like allowing overtime. But is he going to reinstall all the vandalized sorting machines? The collection boxes?
posted by Nelson at 2:04 PM on August 18 [14 favorites]


A friend of mine had a vivid metaphor for what DeJoy is promising today. "He breaks both kneecaps and then promises not to break any more kneecaps."

This. But if they've already done this much damage and are now "suspending" it, how much more dismantlement are they planning for after the election? Is there any way to find out and hopefully stop it?
posted by Mchelly at 2:46 PM on August 18 [2 favorites]


This. But if they've already done this much damage and are now "suspending" it, how much more dismantlement are they planning for after the election? Is there any way to find out and hopefully stop it?

And how much damage will they do starting November 4th until January 20th if Trump loses?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:55 PM on August 18 [3 favorites]


And how much damage will they do starting November 4th until January 20th if Trump loses?

I'm hopeful that there are aggrieved military who will step in and take care of a peaceful transition.

I think that's the problem on my part, though, being "hopeful".

Pulling mailboxes out of the ground is a kind of a visceral summary of the last four years, showing just how much Trump has normalized his dismantling of American democracy and social norms.

Relying on the military to fix the very real deconstruction and destruction of our society is kind of a last-ditch gamble. Most of them voted for this clown.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:56 PM on August 18


And how much damage will they do starting November 4th until January 20th if Trump loses?

Look, it’s one thing to mess around with an election. That way, you’re maybe pissing off half of some subset of mail voters, for some perceived benefit.

But you mess with Christmas, you piss off everyone.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:07 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]




I have a far less sexy version of events that doesn't ascribe supervillan level of genius to Trump's master plans. If you rely on the fact that no one knows if hurting the USPS will help or hurt Trump's chances and that Trump doesn't have some inside information that literally no one else does, this is plausible but doesn't get your blood boiling. It should, but it is so common throughout society it won't:

1. Trump develops an irrational hatred of USPS because, he's Trump, and USPS sends packages via Amazon. In Trump's version of business and the economy if you're aren't winning you're losing. Amazon is winning, so that must mean USPS is losing. If FedEx and UPS were making little to no profit on Amazon, that's fine because they're private. If they fail, they fail.

2. Trump has a big donor with logistics experience.

3. Trump wins, hands out prizes to all big donors, the one with logistics experience ostensibly can run the USPS.

4. Big donor runs it like a FedEx or UPS: tight margins, run the employees as hard as you can, definitely not a life job. Do the minimum to get paid and get out. No overtime, no expensive sorting machines. Create KPIs, hit those KPIs and you make a very good financial statement for companies looking to grow on the stock market.

There. That's it. Simple. No conspiracy, just ineptitude at the wrong time compounded by Trump being Trump.
posted by geoff. at 5:46 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


DeJoy has backed off of his changes: "The USPS and DeJoy have maintained that the changes are intended to improve the agency's dire financial situation."

Ah, the old "how to kill your local transit system" plan, repurposed. Start the "Cut service until it sucks -> usage goes down -> revenue goes down -> cry about finances -> cut service" loop.
posted by ctmf at 6:36 PM on August 18 [17 favorites]


In Trump's version of business and the economy if you're aren't winning you're losing. Amazon is winning, so that must mean USPS is losing.

It's more personal than that. Bezos owns both Amazon and the Washington Post. Trump hates the Washington Post so he hates Bezos and Amazon. The Post Office delivers some of Amazon's packages so Trump hates the Post Office.

But it all starts at the Washington Post and its failure to treat Trump like Fox News.
posted by JackFlash at 7:24 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


Big donor runs it like a FedEx or UPS

FedEx and UPS wouldn't be able to run in the United States without the USPS, at least not at the volume they handle now. The profits these companies make rely largely on the existence of the USPS to perform cheap air cargo and so-called "last mile" delivery (cite, cite, cite).

If the USPS folds, FedEx and UPS would become much more expensive. People would be upset paying $10 to mail a letter or $30 in shipping to get prescription medicines. Call your legislators, if this affects you.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:08 AM on August 19 [11 favorites]


Ah, the old "how to kill your local transit system" plan, repurposed.

Funny you should say that! Aaron Gordon, who broke the story about the flaming postal trucks, has just announced a new newsletter, The Mail, for his coverage of the USPS. I ponied up for a premium subscription (+ zines!) without even blinking.

He has lots of experience reporting on dysfunctional public agencies; previously he wrote about public transportation and while it was around, Signal Problems was the best running commentary on NYC transportation available.
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:26 AM on August 19 [2 favorites]




What the Post Office Needs to Survive a Pandemic Election (ProPublica, Aug. 19, 2020) Fueled by the president’s unfounded claims about rampant voter fraud, and reports of equipment being removed, the plight of the United States Postal Service has captured America’s attention. Will it collapse? Here’s what you need to know.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:11 PM on August 19


Geoff Bennett: "NBC News Exclusive: A Waterloo, Iowa postal employee provides these photos of a dismantled mail sorting machine, which now sits in a garage. The employee says it was in good working condition and that its recent removal has caused delivery delays."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:22 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


But you mess with Christmas, you piss off everyone.
I don't celebrate Christmas and am righteously pissed off; pacifist coming to blows pissed off.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:38 PM on August 19


We received letters from a friend in Switzerland, normal postage, postmarked June 30, which is about 50 days ago. We've also had letters from our mortgage lender and insurance company go missing in the past two months. This is not normal.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:26 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon was arrested for wire fraud and money laundering in a charity scheme to raise money to build a private border wall.

The interesting part is that Bannon taken into federal custody by agents of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service. Wire fraud is a crime that includes using the postal system for fraud and is often enforced by the Post Office. That's sure to rankle Trump even more about the Postal Service -- mail workers arresting his friends.
posted by JackFlash at 8:29 AM on August 20 [14 favorites]


The interesting part is that Bannon taken into federal custody by agents of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service.

Wait, what? I had no idea.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Better yet - they arrested him at sea. On a boat off the coast of CT. Evidently the Postal Inspectors have a navy? There's an Arrested Development joke just hanging out there.
posted by bcd at 8:38 AM on August 20 [7 favorites]


...I went in to tell my boss about the fact that Bannon had been arrested by the Postal Service and he told me that there used to be a true-crime reality show with Postal Service cops. Now you're telling me that there is a postal service NAVY.

THIS IS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:49 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


The GRIFT that keeps on GRIFTING!

The Bannon indictment in full
posted by chavenet at 8:51 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


The board of Bannon's charity includes Kris Kobach, disgraced Republican vote suppression specialist; Erik Prince, military mercenary and brother of Betsy Devos; former Republican congressman Dan Tancredo; wacko Sheriff David Clarke; and baseball pitcher Curt Shilling.

As Atrios says, it's a cackle of grifters.
posted by JackFlash at 9:05 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Gee, a different kind of Trump boat parade - I hope this one is headed to Elba.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:08 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


and baseball pitcher Curt Shilling.

They better arrest this guy before he defects to the Kingdom of Amalur
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:28 AM on August 20 [5 favorites]


The Bannon indictment in full

Oh man, this is like Grade-C fraud and money laundering. I mean, like they teach this shit in first year auditing class.

I keep forgetting rule #1, "The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand."
posted by mikelieman at 9:42 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Apparently Bannon named the boat he was living on "Warfighter." Nice touch. It is being confiscated.
posted by JackFlash at 10:09 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]




I have heard that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the very last law enforcement entity that you want to have taking an interest in you. They don't play around.
posted by thelonius at 10:17 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


All morning I have been feeling like we've been getting some spillover from an alternate universe where it's the Postal Service that has a full militia with a Navy and an Airforce and tanks and all that, and it's the Marines who are in danger of being underfunded. It's like some weird prequel to The Postman.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:31 AM on August 20 [12 favorites]


Bannon’s indictment gets its own FPP.

(Now ride, Postman.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:35 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: " It's like some weird prequel to The Postman."

Don't forget that in Brin's novel the hero calls himself "The Postman" even though he really isn't one in order to convince the straggling survivors that there really is a competent government running what's left of the USA.

Maybe this is part of that cargo-culting.
posted by chavenet at 11:39 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Trailer for The Inspectors.

Wait... this isn't satire? This is real?? And is that... Anthony Michael Hall?!?

nope, it's not. nevermind.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:55 PM on August 20


Spoke to a postal worker today who explained why medication is the 1st thing people noticed was missing...

Maintaining the Amazon contract was 1st priority. Then higher priced postage. But drugs are always shipped cheap b/c they know a month in advance when it has to get there. No need for 2nd day or anything like that. So meds are always among mail leftover at the end of the day...

"Amazon is paying us money. So we're only delivering Amazon. And then if you have time, Priority. If Priority is good, then you do Parcel Select, or Standard Class packages...They always send drugs using the cheapest method, especially the Veteran's office."

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:53 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


Lawsuits I've seen so far:

August 18: states sue the President, the Postmaster General, and the US Postal Service
-> complaint (PDF)
14 states: Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin

August 21: states sue the Postmaster General, the Chairman of the Postal Service Board Of Governors, and the US Postal Service
-> complaint (PDF)
6 states: Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, District Of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina

NAACP Sues Postmaster General to Restore Reliable Mail Delivery
-> complaint (PDF)

National Urban League, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters Sue Postmaster General DeJoy and Other Officials
-> complaint (PDF)

Reminder: if you have a few minutes to spare, you can thank your Attorney General if they're one of the filers of the above suits, or ask your Attorney General to sue if not; and if you have some money to donate, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Urban League, Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters could all use your help in making sure the votes get counted - this year and every year.
posted by kristi at 12:04 PM on August 22 [4 favorites]


Oh, and since I'm such a fan of actual documents, like lawsuits and government publications, here's a document showing mail delays (the last slide is the clearest, to me), from the office of Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., House Oversight Committee chairwoman and sponsor of the pending bill, linked from this USA Today story by Nicholas Wu, House returns from recess to vote on additional $25 billion for United States Postal Service .
posted by kristi at 12:38 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the Senate. He acknowledged that the changes he has made at the United States Postal Service have slowed mail delivery—the LA Times had a ghastly story today about rotting parcels and shipments of dead chickens in mail facilities in California—but says he will not replace the sorting machines he has had removed because “they’re not needed.” He promises the USPS will be able to handle the expected volume of mail-in ballots this fall, and insisted he had made “no changes in any policies with regard to election mail for the 2020 election.” In fact, internal USPS documents show clearly that the USPS intended to treat ballots according to their marked postage, rather than all as first-class mail, as it has done in the past. Treating ballots as bulk mail would have slowed delivery.

The Senate hearing before the Republican-led Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was announced after the House Oversight Committee had arranged a hearing for Monday with DeJoy and USPS Board of Governors Chair Robert Duncan. While senators of both parties today expressed concerns over delays in the mail, the hearing was much friendlier than Monday’s, in front of a committee led by Democrats, is likely to be.
-- excerpt, Letters from an American, 8/21/2020; Fact-check: DeJoy said USPS isn't changing policies for election mail. Internal documents show they were going to (CNN, Aug. 21, 2020); 6 takeaways from the postmaster general's Senate hearing (CNN, Aug. 21, 2020)
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:04 PM on August 22


It's a mutiny! Who's the modern Bogart to play DeJoy in the movie version?

"Washington Postal Workers Defy USPS Orders And Reinstall Mail Sorting Machines."
posted by PhineasGage at 4:37 PM on August 22 [8 favorites]


House passes bill to reverse Postal Service changes, infuse $25B in emergency funds (NBC, 8/22/2020) The rare Saturday session in August comes amid a national uproar over mail interference.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:41 PM on August 22 [3 favorites]


"Washington Postal Workers Defy USPS Orders And Reinstall Mail Sorting Machines."

So far this story has been promoted by just one guy at Forbes. I don't see it in any of the Washington state newspapers or anywhere else. Seems a bit curious.
posted by JackFlash at 9:41 AM on August 23 [3 favorites]


Forbes may have updated? There's a link to a local NPR affiliate KUOW's Friday, 8/21 article, Don’t reconnect mailing machines, Postal Service tells plants. Tacoma does it anyway; Forbes has "Sorting machines in Wenatchee, Washington were also reconnected, against the orders of the Postal Service’s head of maintenance, Kevin Couch."

Yesterday (Saturday, Aug. 22) at Spokane, WA's The Spokesman-Review: USPS ending mail processing in Wenatchee and Yakima, redirecting to Spokane. The Wenatchee processing center sorted its last outgoing mail Saturday and the Yakima plant will do the same Aug. 22, according to documents obtained by The Spokesman-Review and confirmed by union officials. All mail with the exception of “Express” parcels originating in those areas will instead be trucked to Spokane to be sorted. Processing of outgoing mail is also set to end in Tacoma, leaving Spokane and Seattle with the state’s only full processing and distribution centers.

Union leaders were first alerted to the change in a July 6 letter from Kenn Messenger, senior plant manager for the Postal Service’s Seattle district, which includes the entire state
. [...] in an update sent Aug. 12, Messenger wrote that parcels, which have seen a sharp increase in volume during the pandemic fueled by home-bound shoppers, would also be rerouted from Yakima and Wenatchee to Spokane. [...] Wanda Emmert, president of the Inland Empire Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents workers at the Spokane plant, said she was surprised to learn of that update. Despite being listed as a recipient on the Aug. 12 letter, she confirmed that she had not received it until The Spokesman-Review provided her with a copy.

“Basically they’re just killing that office, and they have nowhere to go,” Emmert said. “You can’t force those people to go outside a 50-mile radius for employment.”


On Thursday: USPS email tells managers not to reconnect sorting machines (CNN, Aug. 20, 2020) CNN spoke with union officials across the US on the local, regional and national level, and was only able to identify two facilities -- Dallas and Tacoma, Washington -- that had attempted to reassemble and reintroduce mail sorting machines back into USPS's daily operations.

This is fine. Also perfectly fine: the photos at last month's The White House is building a massive 'anti-climb' wall following protests (Business Insider, July Jul 27, 2020; not to be confused with the temporary anti-protestor fencing around Lafayette Park, which was removed in June.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:33 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Katie Porter's questioning of DeJoy.
Porter then asked DeJoy if he had analyzed the major overhaul plans before they took effect. DeJoy responded that he “did not order major overhaul plans” and that they were in effect before he arrived.

So Porter asked if DeJoy could say who did put those plans in place. “If you did not order these actions to be taken, please tell the committee the name of who did.”

“I do not know,” DeJoy responded.
This bozo insists that you trust him to avoid screwing up in November, while not seeming to give a damn about the screw ups he's made so far.
posted by mark k at 9:23 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


^ “Within a million or so, can you tell me how many people voted by mail in the last presidential election?” Porter asked.

“No, I cannot,” DeJoy responded. Porter asked then if he could estimate it to the nearest 10 million.

“I would be guessing, and I don’t want to guess,” DeJoy answered.

“So, Mr. DeJoy, I’m concerned,” Porter replied.

Not as dramatic as her Whiteboard of Doom, but still very compelling. And Congresswoman Porter's I'm concerned about your understanding of this agency (shortly after his "I'll submit that I know very little about postage stamps") is catchy and widely applicable.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:11 AM on August 25


Katie Porter! She's one of the new Congresspeople whose career I follow. She had a very close race in CA-45 (east side of Orange County) in 2018. In fact she "lost" on election day, had only 48% of the vote counted that day. That turned around to 52% once they included all the mail-in ballots. So you could say she has a personal interest in voting by mail.

Her race this year is looking good for her, although it's not a sure thing. She's raised a massive amount of money, apparently on the back of her displays of competence on the national stage.
posted by Nelson at 7:22 AM on August 25 [2 favorites]


DeJoy pressured-employees/campaign-contributions-reimbursement info at USA Today Post blog, Business Insider, Mother Jones; USPS bars Wasserman Schultz at NBC (video) and excerpted at the Postal Times; summary below used the original (paywalled) articles at the Washington Post:

Today, we learned that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who rose to become a Cabinet official thanks to his prolific fundraising for the Republican Party, apparently managed to raise as much money as he did because he pressured employees at his business, New Breed Logistics, to make campaign contributions that he later reimbursed through bonuses. Such a scheme is illegal. A spokesman said that Dejoy “believes that he has always followed campaign fundraising laws and regulations,” but records show that many of DeJoy’s employees only contributed money to political campaigns when they worked for him. [...]

On September 4, U.S. Postal Service police officers refused Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) entry to one USPS facility in Opa-Locka, Florida and another in Miami. Although she followed the procedures she had followed in the past, this time the local officials told her that the national USPS leadership had told them to bar her entry. “Ensuring only authorized parties enter nonpublic areas of USPS facilities is part of a Postal Police officer’s normal duties, said Postal Inspector Eric Manuel. Wasserman Schultz is a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. - Letters from An American, Sept. 6, 2020
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:30 AM on September 7


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