Democrats accused President Trump on Thursday of trying to skew the 2020 elections by forcing a slowdown at the U.S. Postal Service, as the President said without extra funding - which he opposes - the Postal Service would not be able to deal with an increased number of ballots being sent by mail in 2020 due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
“They need that money in order to make the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” the President told the Fox Business Network in a telephone interview. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped.”
Democrats were outraged.
“This is voter suppression, plain and simple,” said Jena Griswold, the Secretary of State in Colorado.
“Trump is intentionally trying to sabotage it to win an election,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).
“The President is on TV brazenly, corruptly, and deliberately sabotaging the USPS,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA).
“In the midst of a pandemic, he’s saying that he wants to make it harder for EVERY American — regardless of their political affiliation — to cast their vote,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE).
“Trump couldn’t be clearer,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD). “He doesn’t care about Americans’ health or their right to vote.”
The President has made clear he both opposes extra mail-in voting, alleging without evidence that it will lead to election fraud.
While President Trump complains almost daily about the supposed threat of expanded voting by mail in 2020, only a few states will actually be taking that step.
Washington State, Hawaii, Colorado, Utah, and Oregon will conduct their elections all by mail - as normal.
California, Vermont, and Nevada have also decided to send ballots to all active registered voters.
Most of the change in the use of mail-in voting will take place in 35 other states, which allow either voting-by-mail, or no-excuse absentee-by-mail voting.
In 2016, almost one-quarter of all ballots cast were through mail-in voting. Many experts expect that to dramatically increase in 2020 because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
But recent leadership changes at the Postal Service, and new rules from the President's hand-picked Postmaster General, have caused a slowdown in regular mail, and hiccups in dealing with ballots for various state primaries.
Earlier this week, National Public Radio reported that the Postal Service was not only reducing overtime - which means more delays for mail handling - but also removing mail sorting machines from some facilities.
A simple question on Facebook earlier this month brought a torrent of comments about increasing delays with mail, whether sending or receiving.
"My neighborhood in Orlando, FL has noticed a marked downturn in the reliability of the mail this year," wrote Greg Cason. "Typically, we get mail 4 days a week now."
"We have had an unusual amount of lost payments sent out over the last couple of months for our business," said Charles Kuehl, a restaurant owner.
"Mailed my mother a birthday card on July 29 from Atlanta to Virginia Beach," said Lori Erny Thomas. "Took 10 days! Usually takes 2."
"I sell online and have seen delays from 3 days to 3 weeks from the regular delivery time," said Meg Earhart.
"It took more than 13 days for me to receive an important first class letter from NC to MA," said Phoebe Jordan-Booth.
“It took a week for an invitation to be delivered from three blocks away,” said Sue Dawson.
Some voting advocates are now urging Americans to only hand-deliver their mail-in ballot to local elections officials, or use drop boxes, all in an effort to avoid delays in the Postal Service.