Our Post Office is Not for Sale
Jos Sances; Art Hazelwood; Alliance Graphics
This week the newest United States Postmaster, Louis DeJoy, began his job in the midst of a financial crisis. Due to coronavirus, mail volume has plummeted causing an already delicate situation to be worse. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act had originally allocated $25 billion for the USPS but was blocked by the Trump administration in March. The President has repeatedly stated that he believes that the United States Postal Service should raise its prices to compete with other mail competitors, which would make it less accessible to those who rely on USPS, especially underserved communities in rural areas and small businesses.
Without immediate help from Congress and the Trump administration, the Postal Service is “insolvent”, says Rep. Gerry Connolly, It needs debt forgiveness, not debt extension, and it needs an infusion of capital right now." Gerry Connolly also went on to state, “I don’t think it’s going to cease operations, but [the crisis] could affect operations – there could be delays, there could be interruptions in delivery, there could be layoffs.” This just adds to the already poor condition the Postal Service has been in the last 20 years.
With the state of the country, millions of Americans are also going to be voting by mail in the middle of USPS’s financial disaster. The numbers of alternative forms of voting have gone up in recent years, and in light of the pandemic, it will rely on these methods more than ever. Just in 2018 midterms alone, 40% of voters used an "alternative" method of voting, either by casting ballots early, absentee or by mail. A vote by mail expert says the Post Office is a vital tool to "deliver democracy" to Americans. Thus it comes as no surprise that the Trump administration is actively sabotaging the USPS in order to influence the coming elections. At the same time, voters will also have to risk exposure to COVID by having to vote in person, further impacting voter turn out. In these unprecedented times, the Post Office is needed more than ever and with the support of the government, it would be a remarkably effective tool for administering mail-in elections.
"It's a concern if Congress is not going to appropriate the right amount of support. And it's not just about balloting, they deliver medicine, they deliver medical supplies, and businesses rely on the post office too. They are a huge part of what has made our country great." - Amber McReynolds, the former director of the Denver Elections Division and CEO of Vote At Home, an organization that advocates for expanding vote by mail.
CSPG’s Poster of the Week is by Jos Sance and Art Hazelwood with Alliance Graphics. The poster, from 2012, came from a protest when the downtown Berkeley Post Office was going to be offered for sale by the United States Postal Service. Today, 8 years later, we are still struggling to save such an integral part of our society.