At a critical turning point in the 2020 election, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a close Trump consigliere, has defied a federal court order meant to track down and deliver some 300,000 mailed-in ballots.
In turn, federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has warned DeJoy that "someone might have a price to pay" for the postal service's refusal to sweep some 300,000 votes stranded in swing state post offices and deliver them to election boards for counting, where they may, in fact, make a critical difference in the outcome of this astounding election.
As the battle for the presidency boils down to uncounted mailed-in ballots, Trump's deconstruction of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has taken center stage.
The spread of the coronavirus long ago made it clear this election would be deeply impacted by tens of millions of mailed-in ballots.
Throughout his mercenary presidency, Trump has escalated his assaults on the Postal Service. Republicans of his corporate ilk have long wanted to dismantle the USPS, largely to destroy its powerful union.
They've also wanted to benefit huge private delivery companies like FedEx and UPS. DeJoy's own business, XPO Logistics, recently landed a $5 million contract with the USPS. (DeJoy claims he has divested his stake in the company, but the reality is unclear.)
When the coronavirus hit, the Postal Service became a political football. Throughout the U.S., concerned citizens worried that suffering through long lines to finally arrive at cramped voting centers would expose them to potential illness. As lines backed up in Wisconsin for this past spring's primary, reports of infection ran rampant. Some reports claim at least 71 deaths were the tragic result.
Since the 1980s, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington State and Hawaii have automatically mailed ballots to registered voters. The systems work extremely well. After the fearsome warnings spread from Wisconsin's primary, California, Nevada, and a number of other states jumped in.
In swing states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Republican legislatures demanded voters fill out applications online or by mail to get their ballots. The requirements can be complex and confusing, apparently aiming to restrict the popular vote.
As Trump assaulted the Postal Service (which he termed "a joke"), he openly feared being overwhelmed by absentee ballots. If everyone could easily vote by mail, he complained, Republicans would never get elected.
Trump himself has voted absentee since occupying the White House. (He officially lives in Florida.) But he complains vote by mail is somehow different. (It isn't.)
So he threatened to sue Nevada when it announced it would join five other states in mailing ballots to all registered voters. Those votes are now being hotly disputed.
Trump also threatened to cut election board funding in Michigan for daring to mail ballots to all registered voters. "Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election," he tweeted. "This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!"
Through the summer, DeJoy brutally gutted much of the USPS's highly evolved functional core, removing sorting machines, trashing long-established procedures, firing essential long-term personnel and removing postal drop boxes throughout the country.
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