By Ted Lam
Deadline: Now –
There are reports that without an infusion of funding, the US Postal Service might have to shutter its operations by June. Without the USPS functioning properly, there’s little hope that vote by mail will be widely available between now and November’s elections. The House of Representatives asked for money for USPS during the last stimulus negotiations, but the money was dropped from the final bill.
Members of Congress are now debating whether to provide the Postal Service with money in the next round of stimulus, and Democrats are fighting back. The bicameral Resilient Elections During Quarantines and Natural Disasters Act of 2020, H.R. 6202 and S. 3440, are intended to address the risks to American voters and elections posed by COVID-19 and other natural disasters. To date, none of our Members of Congress have cosponsored these bills.
The Republican Party has long wanted to privatize USPS. The Current Occupant, having spent many a tweet criticizing the USPS, was also opposed to providing it with necessary assistance in the recent $2 trillion stimulus bill. When Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) was asked “if he believed the Trump Administration is deliberately allowing the Postal Service to fail,” he answered, “I don’t know that it’s a strategy, but I think they would not be bothered by the collapse of the Postal Service.”
Voting by mail in 2020 depends on a functioning post office. Vote by mail is not a panacea for elections. It takes time and care to set up and, improperly executed, can lead to voters being disenfranchised. But during the pandemic it’s hard to see how we can conduct elections safely without it. We risk disenfranchising people from closed polling places and enormous numbers not being able to vote in the fall. We only have to look at the horrifying dilemma voters in Wisconsin faced this week: abandoning their right to vote or joining crowded lines with the risk of catching COVID. Allowing the USPS to fail could mean countless other states would face an equally terrible choice in November.
What you can do:
Call your Senators and Representative to tell them you want them to make sure the next stimulus bill includes necessary funding for USPS, and that you want them to cosponsor the Resilient Elections bills (H.R. 6202 and S. 3440).
What to say to your Senators:
My name is _____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The next COVID stimulus bill must include the original House’s $25 billion to help fund the USPS, and eliminate its $11 billion debt and $3 billion annual borrowing cap. Without the USPS millions won’t be able to vote safely while the pandemic lasts. Don’t let the USPS be shut down or privatized – don’t let what happened in Wisconsin this week happen in the rest of the country! And please also co-sponsor the Resilient Elections During Quarantines bill, S. 3440.
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
- Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
What to say to your Representative:
My name is _____, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The next COVID stimulus bill must include the original House’s $25 billion to help fund the USPS, and eliminate its $11 billion debt and $3 billion annual borrowing cap. Without the USPS millions won’t be able to vote safely while the pandemic lasts. Don’t let the USPS be shut down or privatized – don’t let what happened in Wisconsin this week happen in the rest of the country! And please also co-sponsor the Resilient Elections During Quarantines bill, H.R. 6202.
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
- Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
- Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065
Not in California? Use the scripts above and find your Members of Congress contact info here:
- Call your Senators
- Call your Representative
Ion Y. and Heidi Rand contributed to this article
Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer. Ted is a member of the Indivisible East Bay Governance Committee and is co-lead of the Indivisible CA-11 team.
Heidi Rand fights the evil empire with skills gained as a Ninth Circuit staff attorney and civil rights lawyer, using words to resist, and to inform and inspire others to take action. She also wields a mean camera and knitting needles, though not at the same time.