It seems odd that something as traditional and reliable as the U.S. Postal Service would become part of a political controversy. It’s gotten so bad that the USPS is using an outside public relations firm to reassure us that mail-in voting will work this November.
Postal workers in the Kansas City area are also ready to reassure the public that they’re doing their job. Prescriptions, pension checks, personal letters, newspapers and magazines, and ballots will continue to be delivered reliably.
The bad news is, the USPS doesn’t handle the volume of mail it once did – before email and online bill paying. Add to that a requirement that the postal service pre-fund not only its future pensions but its future retiree medical coverage as well, and USPS is losing money. One attempt to reverse that included eliminating overtime – which means it could take longer for mail to arrive.
Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab said after the primary election there were no reports of post offices being overrun. But he cautioned that voters who want to ensure their ballot reach their intended destination should instead drop them off at their local polling place.
“Unless you absolutely have to trust the post office, it is better to just drop it off,” Schwab said.
We need to take care of business when it comes to “fixing” the U.S. Postal Service. But nothing should be implemented prior to the election that might jeopardize mail-ballot delivery in November. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed, and he is attempting to calm election fears.
While it’s reported that 46 states and Washington, D.C., received letters that the USPS couldn’t guarantee mail ballots would be delivered on time, the subject line of the actual letters read: “Deadlines for Mailing Ballots.”
Under the election laws of various states, “certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards.”
The letter reminded officials that voters who receive and send ballots by mail should submit their ballot request early enough so that it is received by election officials at least 15 days before election day. And, when returning a ballot by first-class mail, the Postal Service recommends allowing one week for delivery.
President Donald Trump said, on Aug. 13, “You know, there’s nothing wrong with getting out and voting. You get out and vote. They voted during World War I and World War II.”
It is absolutely correct that there is “nothing wrong with getting out and voting,” if you can. There is also nothing wrong with voting by mail, but don’t wait until election day. If someone had a credit card bill that was due by Nov. 3, that person would be foolish to put a check in the mail on Oct. 31. A $30 late fee might be the result.
Likewise, anyone voting via mail in the Nov. 3 election should allow plenty of time for that ballot to arrive at the courthouse. Oct. 26 seems like a reasonable deadline, but the safest option is to deliver that ballot in person or vote at the polls on election day. You’re not risking a “late fee” if it doesn’t arrive by the deadline. You’re risking losing the opportunity to vote.