Election 2020

Don't Blame Donald Trump if the Post Office Loses Your Vote

Even if all presidential votes were cast through the mail and sent on the same day, they would amount to 30 percent of a single day's volume.


By now you've probably heard that President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy "are sabotaging democracy in plain sight" through a mix of nefarious ploys, ranging from removing "blue Post Office drop boxes" to scrapping mail-sorting machines to allegedly mandating a slowdown in delivering the mail. The upshot of the chatter is that Trump, fearful of losing the election in November, is supposedly doing everything possible to block what is expected to be a historically high level of mail-in ballots. (Meanwhile, the president has been stoking his own conspiracy theories by preemptively declaring the upcoming vote "the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.")

The truth is far less incendiary, though still troubling. As USA Today concluded in a fact-check of various rumors floating around,

it is false to say mail is intentionally being slowed, despite reports that a new USPS [United States Postal Service] system might inherently cause delays. The Trump administration said the president did not direct USPS to slow down its deliveries, and USA TODAY found no evidence of that claim being true either.

In any case, as NPR and other outlets have reported, the president has said he'd sign a bill including more funding for the Postal Service, including aid dedicated to processing any surge in mail-in votes.

Here's a little bit of math that should give voters succor. In 2016, about 140 million total votes were cast in the presidential election, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, with "nearly 24 percent…cast using by-mail absentee voting." Due to Covid-19 concerns, the percentage of mail-in and absentee ballots will almost surely be higher this time around—possibly as high as 70 percent of all votes cast. Assume, for the sake of argument, that the same number of votes will be cast this year as in 2016. Even if all voters used the mail and posted their ballots on exactly the same day, that would comprise only 30 percent of the amount of mail the USPS says it processes every single day.

So if the USPS screws up delivering votes in a timely and efficient manner this fall, it won't be because of any sinister actions by the White House. It will be because of longstanding, well-documented managerial and cultural problems that gave rise to such stock portrayals of letter carriers as Seinfeld's Newman and Cheers' Cliff Clavin. As Reason's Eric Boehm has documented, it may take weeks or even months for a final tally of all votes this fall; depending on the closeness of the race on Election Day, that waiting period may be excrutiating to live through. But that has less to do with the USPS and more to do with local and state voting boards.

For those who are interested in the post office's chronically bad performance and "unsustainable" situation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has produced a long list of studies on where the problems come from and how they might be addressed. The short version is that Congress has blocked all sorts of serious reforms to an operation that has seen a 33 percent decline in mail volume since 2006.

Related video: From 2017, here's "Why We Should Privatize the Postal Service."

NEXT: Lovecraft Country Makes Actual Monsters Out of America’s Tormented Racial History

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  1. It’s like Gillespie has been purposefully refuting all of White Knight and Tony’s arguments in his columns the last few weeks.

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      1. so you bought the new book from Velvet Jones?

    2. Not really. If you had paid attention to what I said, instead of what you think I said, I was criticizing Trump for confessing on TV that he doesn’t actually want a functional post office.

      That has nothing to do with whether the post office can actually handle the mail-in voting or not.

      1. We need a functional post office. I get my virtue signalling points when I walk the junk mail from my mail box to our recycling bin knowing that I am helping the environment.

        It’s true, 2-3 times per year I get a letter that I actually have to read. If we did not prop up a federal post office, how would I get junk mail?

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    4. If you were concerned about fair elections and the postal service being a weak link eg .the plausibility of fraud or delay, wouldn’t you go to lengths to make sure systems run smooth during the election …?

      1. What, but shoveling billions of dollars at a system that mainly delivers adverts and has a long list of long term problems? While most problems haven’t been fraud, and maybe not even mostly PO faults, a 20% rejection rate has been the rule for years and the number of absentee ballots is generally not enough to sway an election. What do you think the losing side is going to do when 20% of the majority of ballots are challenged?

        1. If that’s the system, fix it…..
          70% is 98 Million votes so if you’re going to question just under 20 million votes (15% of the total) that’s a fair bit imho. If you knew beforehand that it is an essential link in the election where possible delays could occur especially in the time where people would prefer it that way to maintain their health due to the presence of Covid 19, wouldn’t you even for the period that extra capacity was needed put in resources to remedy the bottleneck just so that we avoid in advance that these votes get counted properly and ensure a fair election?

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  2. I’m more alarmed/amused by the very high rate that mail in ballots are rejected on the basis of missing postmarks, delayed return, blah blah blah.

    Should be fun!

    1. and the fight over voter suppression for people who mailed in a ballot and then tried to vote in person, of the ballots rejected for signatures not matching, or accepted with signatures not matching

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    2. A 20% rejection rate has been the rule for years and the number of absentee ballots is generally not enough to sway an election. What do people think the losing side is going to do when 20% of the majority of ballots are challenged? No matter who loses they’re going to head right to court, so this just ensures bedlam. And $26 billion less than 3 months before the election isn’t going to fix problems that they haven’t been able to fix for years

  3. “Don’t Blame Donald Trump if…”

    I stopped reading right there. I reserve the right to blame Donald Trump for anything and everything. Sorry if that offends the Trumpista cultists.


  4. Mail-in votes are not a concern because of the USPS.

    Mail-in votes are a concern because there’s no way to know for sure that the intended voter got the ballot, and the intended voter was the one who sent in the ballot.

    It’s a system ripe for rigging no matter how perfectly the Postal Service does its job.

    1. How about if voters go to their closest COVID testing station, present a valid photo ID, and receive a mail-in ballot?

      *** bites lip ***

    2. Even already the mail is being delayed, and now ballots are not being treated as First Class Mail but as that junk (bulk mail) that gets thrown away. Voter fraud is virtually non-existent in states that for years have had mail-in voting which comes with security checks such as codes for each ballot, signature matching, etc. And is it worth 10 years in prison to add one vote to 130 million?

      1. ” Voter fraud is virtually non-existent in states that for years have had mail-in voting which comes with security checks such as codes for each ballot,”

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        2. Much like how few whites killed blacks in the Democratic South up until the 1960’s. I guess that stuff never happened.

      2. That judge just convicted thought it was. Zealots will do crazy shit.

    3. Nonsense. The ballots are coded and can only be counter if returned in a signed envelope whose signature is compared to registration records. The voter can track the ballot to determine that it arrived.

    4. There is no way to know that your in-person vote is properly counted either

  5. The Trump administration said the president did not direct USPS to slow down its deliveries, and USA TODAY found no evidence of that claim being true either.

    But he *could* have, and that’s all counts.

    1. well, he asked if the whole election should be postponed until the system is ready, which is tantamount to an executive order shutting it down.

    2. Mail slow downs are being created by eliminating overtime work so that there is a backlog and treating ballots as bulk mail rather than First Class, which is like being sent to sit at the back of the bus. During the peak season, overtime is used to get the mail delivered on time; voting season will be a peak season and lack of measures traditionally used to avoid backlogs and delayed mails will result from Trump’s deliberate policies to gum up the works. He hates America, thus seeking to discredit and destroy an institution so valuable that it is the only one mentioned in the Constitution. Lock him up!

      1. More advocacy for fraud.
        Eat a bullet

      2. The Constitiuton states Congress shall find a system for mail delivery, for the first 150 years or so, this was mostly done by appointing postmasters who then contracted with private individuals to handle actual transportation and delivery of mail. It worked pretty well for the most part. The idea that the current USPS has existed since the founding of our country and that it is the only system we can use is wrong on both accounts. In fact, I doubt the framers of the Constitiuton would ever have wanted some huge bureaucratic monstrosity that is the current government ran USPS.

        1. The Constitution empowers Congress to establish post offices, but doesn’t mandate them to do so.

          1. Also true, and it wasn’t post offices if was a postal service. It never mentioned how it needed to function. And for most of the first 150 years after the Constitiuton’s passage it was mostly handled by contractors. The definitive word in the article is shall, which indicates it is a strong suggestion but not a mandate.

            1. You might need to refresh your memory just a bit on this. The exact words of the relevant section are:

              “The Congress shall have Power … To establish Post Offices and post Roads; …”

              The word ‘shall’ merely relates to having the power, not doing anything with it. Simply, they have no responsibility whatsoever to ensure that the country has a working mail system. They just have the ability to create post offices if they find it desirable to do so.

      3. Overtime?

        “……. a 33 percent decline in mail volume since 2006.”

        Yeah. I hardly ever read the articles all the way to the end either.


      4. Also, just FYI, that same Constitutional Article also directed them to form a Navy and an Army. So it wasn’t the only institution named in the Constitiuton.

    3. They ordered the mail men to slow down? All of them and no one but the tens of thousands of mail men heard about it? Sure that sounds reasonable. SMH

  6. If you get a mail ballot drop it off in your county drop box. Otherwise go to a polling place as most states have early voting anyway. If you wait until the last minute that is your problem.

    As always feel free to not vote by voting libertarian. But if you have any beliefs that include freedom of speech, firearms ownership and 2A rights, religious freedoms, capitalism and free markets, maintaining economic competitiveness, secure borders then you have only one choice because the libertarians cannot win and the democrats will take away your rights and punish you for your beliefs.

    1. I agree with every word you said.
      I left the Republican Party and came here after DJT and the Florida Republican Governor forced me to turn in all my bump stocks.
      As a single issue voter on gun rights, where am I to go?
      The Libertarian Party seems to deliberately want to lose.
      I have to vote GOP and not Libertarian because Florida is purple and Biden said he will appoint Beto to take away AR 15’s

  7. Is the entire staff at Reason deranged except Nick Gillespie?

    1. Even the insane can have moments of lucidity.

    2. Nick’s jacket is writing all his pieces this month. Banging them out on an old fashioned typewriter in a cabin in Montana, with only a carton of Camels and a case of Glenfiddich for company.
      Nick himself is partying in Ibiza with Robby, Suderman and ENB, Covid be damned. They all rented mint green Vespa’s and now dance away the evenings at some of the hottest clubs, guzzling Sangria and Pink Pussy Slams.
      Welch wanted to go too, but his mom wouldn’t let him.

      1. Was Hemingway the jacket’s previous host?

      2. Brilliant.

    3. Nick is likely one of the few there not angling for a better job elsewhere in media.

  8. I laughed my ass off at Jamie Lee Curtis’ tweet which included a photo of a mail truck being carried on a flatbed; she said that because the driver was wearing a red hat it must mean that Trump is having the Post Office’s trucks stolen to sabotage the election.

    Being stuck in the bubble of rich celebrities, she may be unaware that trucks sometimes break down and have to be serviced.

    1. We’ll always have that scene in Trading Places.

      1. Billy Ray Valentine, Capricorn.

      2. They were spectacular, weren’t they?

        1. Magnificent.

  9. If it safe enough to buy lottery tickets, it is safe enough to vote. Period.

    1. Beautiful.

      And if it is safe enough to protest, it is safe enough to vote.

    2. If the number of locations to do so is the same, and the wait is the same.

  10. >>it is false to say mail is intentionally being slowed

    then they’re morons across the board because I just mailed something Dallas –> STL and it took seven fucking days …

    1. it only took 2 days for the Pony Express

  11. Why do we have a Postmaster General but not a Mixmaster General?

  12. At this point they should just do a twitter poll.

    1. Since anyone to the right of Lenin has been banned from twitter, the Dems would be on board with this.

      1. McCartney was usually to the right of Lennon, with Harrison farther left and Ringo in back.

        1. Then Yoko came in like an SJW wrecking ball

  13. I frequent some subreddits related to a side business I have and they have been taken over by proggy spammers concern trolling about how Trump has turned the post office into a hive of scum and villainy in order to stop mail in voting. Any response not in total agreement “you know the delays started when a lot more people were buying online” or “remember the good old days when people would make posts related to such-and-such business” are insanely down voted or even deleted.

    I hate election season

    1. Wait. What?
      Are you saying the LEFT is disparaging hard-working middle class union members?
      Say it ain’t so!

    2. Maybe people are just sick of Trump’s shit.

      1. Maybe the left will like you if you just keep sucking up to them, eunuch

  14. Don’t blame Donald Trump when he openly admitted he wants to hold up USPS service so as to prevent mail-in balloting? And when he just appointed a typically unqualified wealthy donor crony, who just happens to have bought Amazon stock options, to head the USPS? And when the USPS is dismantling sorting machines of the type needed to process absentee ballots in Pennsylvania, a battleground state? And when people are relying on government checks in the midst of COVID crisis? Why not just buy the Brooklyn Bridge from Trump – he’s an honest businessman, isn’t he?

    1. There are folks here who would defend Trump if he literally did stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone.

      1. John would get on here and start ranting about how it was for the good of the country and about how Obama probably also killed someone when he was a kid. Jesse would link to some nutty right-wing blog that claimed proof Trump was just kidding, and that the gun was empty, and that it was a CIA agent hiding on a roof that really made the shot. And Nardz would jerk off in the background.

        1. I bet you got hard writing that.

          1. I am sorry I didn’t include you 🙁

        2. I would applaud anyone who shot the three of you.
          We’re getting closer

    2. Anyway, even if he tries to sabotage the post office, in many places voters can stop by and drop off their mail-in ballot instead of mailing it. That’s what I will do.

    3. If the USPS cannot handle 30% of a daily intake once, then it is a useless anachronism that should cease to exist.

      Funny watching the left demand this AND the abolition of all ballot security measures possible.

  15. Pathetic. No proof that Trump ordered slow down. Trump says he hasn’t even spoken to him but oops they met last week.

    The PG mandated a ban on a overtime and a hiring freeze as a large number of postal workers we’re dick with COVID. That’s just ”hood management, ” though, right?

    The PG has directed not just the stoppage of mail sorting machines, but their destruction.

    The PG. Is removing mail notes all.over Montana, for one example. Efficiency move? Sure, if you say do.

    Forget voting– we sent getting our medications or Socusl Security or pension checks. Efficiency!!

    1. Everything is so terrible and unfair!

  16. So fact checking now means quoting whatever USA Today says?? I mean, even if they’re right, it’s kind of a lazy tactic… Who knows how much effort one of their Top Men put into it? He or she might have just looked at Wikipedia for all we know… Journalism isn’t what it used to be…Facepalm.

  17. Joseph Stalin once said; ” Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.”

    1. Exactly; I never wanted to run a meeting at work, I wanted to write up the minutes.

  18. I just want to say that I picked up my mail yesterday, and there was a piece of mail for some guy in Pittsburgh. My place is in a suburb of Chicago.

    Don’t worry. The USPS has got this!

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  20. The amount of political junk mail – even in the partisan state I live in – is enormous. All of it comes with 30 days of an election. It’s laughable to consider that 1 extra envelope per household would in any way be an issue.

  21. here is the solution…get busy NOW creating special voting mailboxes and use the postmark on the mail from them. all ballots timely delivered to the custody of the PO get counted. lets also immediately cease DAILY mail to residences. every other day would be more than fine for the crap i get. yesterdays delivery contained ONLY two junk mail items. i’m willing to wait for those crucial delivered items

    1. Exactly! If the government can justify forcing nonessential workers to stop working and business to no operate on the premise of public health, why does nonessential mail get a pass? I’ve received the same amount of junk mail since March. Since then the USPS has lost several checks from clients and books I ordered, but never fail to make sure I get those Bed Bath and Beyond coupons and state farm insurance advertisements, which are so critical to my life.

  22. Trump installed a crony as PMG who is vocal about not liking the post office, and Trump is blocking any covid aid to the post office because he does not like mail in voting. So yes, blaming him is completely warranted.

    1. “In any case, as NPR and other outlets have reported, the president has said he’d sign a bill including more funding for the Postal Service, including aid dedicated to processing any surge in mail-in votes.”

      Trump does NOT want total vote by mail. The democrats do.

      1. Your boy trump likes vote by mail for himself, and for everyone in states with good republican governors. He just doesn’t like vote by mail for voters of the opposing party, or for states with a governor from the opposing party.

        Whereas democrats have support vote by mail being available to all, including everyone in the opposing party and all states regardless of the party of the governor.

        And you’re saying that your boy’s position is better?

        1. Ah, Doug, you just keep on being adorable.

        2. “Your boy”

          Is this a Southernism?

  23. Nick sure cuts his boy trump a lot of slack.

  24. My wife and I applied for and recieved provisional ballots for the primary. We filled them out and put them both in our mail box to send back at the same time. One made it. One never arrived. If you consider 50% delivery good enough vote by mail. We are going to the polls and vote. We will get a sticker that says we voted. If you vote by mail you will get a sticker that says I think I voted, maybe.
    Polls are indicating over half the country will no be confident of a close election by vote by mail. That alone should be the first clue it is not a great idea.

    1. Those stickers are great. I don’t vote, but I’ve never wanted to wear a sticker to virtue signal a sense of smug self satisfaction.

      Maybe I should try it? Haha.

      1. Wear one that says “I don’t vote.” Same smug self-satisfaction, no civic participation.

        1. Sure it is. It’s a protest. Protesting is cool now, right?

          1. As with everything else, only when the blacks do it.

  25. The Virginia board of elections just said that it will count all mail-in ballots received, regardless of whether or not they have a postmark, so I could request a mail-in ballot and still vote in person it sounds like, so long as they have not yet received my mail-in ballot. I also don’t think they can turn me away from voting in person for any reason, even if it says I already voted, and would have to offer me a provisional ballot, which I am sure they will count this year too, but not for the Jo I will be voting for.

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  28. If you were concerned about fair elections and the postal service being a weak link eg .the plausibility of fraud or delay, wouldn’t you go to lengths to make sure systems run smooth during the election …?

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  30. Wow, start the article with a lie, good going

    why would all the votes be cast in one day?

    ohh, yeah, it would never happen

    They come in over a month

    trumpistas defending the indefensible

    1. Yes, before Trump, people often marvelled at the sheer efficiency of the USPS. Before Trump, alternatives like UPS and FedEx didn’t exist because the USPS never had problems with delivering mail in a timely manner. Nope, ALL Trump.

      1. all Trump, all the time. TDS.

    2. The spelling and grammar indicate that this might be Hihn.

  31. Say, did you guys hear that the Russian probe was a scam and a soft coup attempt AFTER ALL? A top guy in the Mueller investigation just admitted to falsifying records. And this is not that long after the FBI was caught lying to obtain surveillance warrant.

    Oh you probably haven’t, because most of MSM didn’t report it. Instead they moved on to the next conspiracy theory, in which Donald Trump hijacks the USPS to steal an election.

    These people have no shame, no pride, no humanity, and not an iota of integrity. The succubus Pelosi is already planning a hearing on this subject, based on literally nothing. They have Trump beat in the conspiracy theory department.

    And look at them flail their arms around like mental patients over voting in person, after giving thumbs to massive unregulated protests in which most of the Marxists wore bandanna masks that the CDC just declared was actually worse than not wearing a mask. If you can riot for 70 days straight, then you can vote in person for ONE. FREAKING. DAY. Where you can be removed for not wearing a mask.

    1. The covid numbers just don’t justify the need for massive voting by mail. In PA the news is reporting that the statewide rate of deaths is an average of 22 ppl per day the past 7 days up from an average of 15 per day one week ago and 12 daily two weeks ago. In 2018 over 134k people died in PA in total. That’s nearly 370 ppl per day without coronavirus. But all people hear is how many are dying from COVID-19 with no context to the reality that people die. Every. Single. Day.

      Coumo and Murphy are acting like NY and NJ have done such an amazing job. They had their surge early in the spring and with numbers so high at the peak they could only go down. NY and NJ have nearly 50k deaths combined. CA, despite having one of the earliest and most restrictive lockdowns has over 11k deaths and the highest confirmed cases in the country. The media has let the failures control the narrative and dictate national policy during the pandemic.

      If you’re not sick there is really no reason voting can’t be in person. Its not more risky than going to the supermarket or standing on line for 45 minutes to send a package at the USPS locations near me where it seems only 2 people work on any given day.

  32. As McEnany has said, it’s the mailing-out that is the problem. Voter roles are usually filled with dead and mentally disabled seniors. One in three seniors die with dementia or Alzheimers. With absentee voting you actually have to call the office and give your social security number like you would do at a polling station. Mass mailings have no such scrutiny.

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