By Lexi Meola
Elm Staff Writer
Voter Suppression is not a new term, but it is one that has recently come to light in regard to the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election. President Donald Trump and his administration have shown the American people what blatant voter suppression looks like, making it difficult for people to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
With the help of longtime Trump donor and now postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, Trump is actively trying to prevent citizens from voting in the 2020 election.
The postmaster general has made numerous changes to the post office, slowing it down to make it more difficult to vote safely during the coronavirus pandemic. DeJoy has faced national criticism since he took the position on June 15.
“The changes — including eliminating employee overtime, removing mail-sorting machines from postal facilities around the country, and reorganizing or eliminating Postal Service leadership — have slowed mail service in some areas and sparked concerns over whether the service will be able to handle the historically high volumes of mailed ballots expected in the November election,” Lucy Tompkins of the New York Times said.
This is just another way that a public program is starting to become privatized by the Trump administration.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s plan to defund public schools is now being replicated with DeJoy and the USPS. Private education is now more sought out because public schools no longer get enough funding.
With the defunding of the post office, other delivery services like UPS, FedEx, and Amazon will take over. These services are explicitly more costly for the common American. It is important to note that these delivery services also rely on the USPS to make certain deliveries, for example, those addressed to rural destinations.
If Trump and DeJoy are successful in their dismantling, American people will lose money and many small businesses might have to close or increase shipping prices.
Why do President Trump and his followers deem the postal service untrustworthy? The USPS has been delivering mail-in ballots safely for many years now.
The President and the First lady have voted by mail in previous elections and have even requested mail-in ballots for this upcoming election, according to CNN. So, if it is safe for President Trump to vote by mail, why has he deemed this method as unsafe for the rest of the country?
Mail-in voting eliminates many of the problems surrounding voter suppression. Mail-in voting is especially crucial in the middle in the middle of a pandemic, allowing voters to fill out ballots in the safety of their home.
Every citizen eligible to vote can exercise their right without putting themselves and others at risk of catching a deadly virus. This intimidates President Trump. The more people able to vote could mean more people voting against him. Voter suppression is just one of many shameful and disturbing ways that we have seen Trump attempt to sway the election in his favor.
Voter suppression presents itself in different ways.
“Our system has buckled under the weight of repressive voter ID laws, toxic partisan and racial gerrymandering, voter roll purges and precinct closures that disproportionately target minority voters,” Reverend Jessie L. Jackson and David Daley wrote in Timemagazine, summarizing many of the problems which have been known to cause voter suppression.
Perhaps the most subtle form of voter suppression is the fact that Election Day is not a national holiday. As a result, many people must go out of their way before or after work to vote. Numerous people will not make it to the polls because their jobs will not give them time off or the lines are too long to wait in during their break.
There are only five states that have made Election Day a state holiday, including New York, Hawaii, Kentucky, Virginia, and Illinois, according to CNN.
House Democrats introduced making Election Day a federal holiday as part of their anti-corruption bill last year, but it was dismissed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. According to USA Today, McConnell called it a “power grab,” thus showing how afraid GOP leaders and President Trump are of being voted out of political office.
Regardless of who you are voting for, the Trump administrations’s attempt to slow the USPS increases the possibility the your vote could end up uncounted. Requesting your ballot early is an easy way to avoid this potential risk. Additionally, vulnerable Americans like veterans and small business owners depend on the USPS to deliver their mail, packages, and medicine in a timely manner. Now, thanks to the Trump administration, the dependability of the USPS may no longer be a guarantee.
To register to vote, by mail or in person, visit https://www.vote.org/.