All For Want Of A Chance to Vote

The November gauntlet awaits.



If I didn’t know better, I’d say that the Trump Administration is slowly preparing the United States Postal Service for sale to Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity firm. They’re removing the familiar blue and green mailboxes in many cities across the country, though they’re pausing in the western states until after the election. They’re removing more than a few mail sorting machines at distribution facilities. They’re restricting the fees that can be charged for letter and parcel handling. And they’re cutting overtime. It’s like they want to sell off the Postal Service to the lowest bidder before the election. It must be nice to know that one of your biggest fundraisers has got your back, Mr. President.

Donald Trump and the pandemic have prompted a huge debate over mail-in ballots. Most of us are aware that voting by mail relieves us of the burden of waiting in long lines to vote. I used to think that long lines were a feature exclusive to communist countries. I guess not. Voting by mail is far safer in the year of the pandemic than to wait in line, outside, in often cold weather, in early November. Achoo!

On the one hand, Trump blasts voting by mail. Fraud, fraud, fraud! He tells us that we need to see people at the polls telling us they are who they are. Trump kind of sounds like this: “Of course we want fair elections. We just don’t think we can get a fair election by mail. That’s why I won’t sign a bill that gives more money to the lame Postal Service! I don’t want people voting by mail! Pardon me while I sign this request for an absentee ballot.”

On the other hand, he has high praise for states that allow voting by mail as long as they’re Republican states. Not a word of praise for states that run all mail elections that just happen to have Democratic governors or statehouse majorities.

States have been closing polling places left and right for years before the pandemic, often without adequate public notice. At least now, with a pandemic raging across the country, closing polling places makes some sense, but only as long as voting by mail is allowed.

Now I learn that the Trump campaign has filed multiple lawsuits to prohibit ballot collection boxes like the one I used to vote in the last election. That box was right out front of city hall, with at least one camera pointed at it, and a steady stream of people driving up to drop off their…