Note: This article was written before Postmaster Louis DeJoy’s latest statement on the USPS. He has since then announced the suspension of his changes until after the November election.

 

The United States Postal Service (USPS) will run out of money by 2021 and have to shut down. As of now, the USPS will last until April with no additional help, but if it receives a funding increase of 15% more than pre-COVID levels, it could last until October of 2021. Either way, for it to survive past next year, some serious funding needs to take place. The service has had financial trouble for years—accumulating debt from choosing to deliver mail to all instead of focusing on making a profit. This means that, without the necessary funding, the USPS will be overwhelmed with all of the mail-in ballots for this election. The Postmaster, Louis DeJoy, has even made changes to the USPS to save money, but this has already resulted in even more complications. Even though Postmaster DeJoy has implemented changes to the USPS, the USPS should be preserved and receive more funding because those changes have caused delays—among many other purposes, it serves everyone in the U.S., and it will aid in allowing a safe voting process this election.

Residents Feel Frustrated

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, residents have gone 3 weeks without packages or letters. This means that they have not received medication, paychecks, or bills when they were supposed to—valid reasoning for frustration. Mail is piling up at post offices, and because of DeJoy’s changes, it is getting left undelivered. In addition, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in packages, but because of the decrease in staffing at post offices, delays are very common. Delays are happening all across the U.S., not just in Philadelphia, and inconveniencing many people. In Shreveport, Louisiana, residents are also seeing their packages piled up at the post office. Those who run businesses and rely on 2-day shipping are feeling very exasperated since they cannot get their orders out on time. At a time when people are relying on deliveries, this is unacceptable. In general, people should be able to rely on their mail delivery service to bring them the necessary items on time, and especially during a global pandemic when people are staying home more. Delays are unsatisfactory and the USPS needs more funding to survive and to do its job.

The USPS Is Essential To All

Even though the USPS gets presented as a business sometimes, it is a not-for-profit service in the US government. It has a social mission to “connect the nation with dependable and affordable postal services.” This means that it delivers to everyone and does not charge absurd amounts of money for its services. In a town in Arizona, for example, its residents rely on mules to receive mail. It is so secluded that mail trucks cannot enter. Would a private mail carrier be willing to take on this responsibility? Probably not, considering that they do not have mules on hand and would lose money delivering to these areas; as a result, demographics like these would end up without mail. Most people in the U.S. probably do not think twice about how mail was delivered to their house; they just rely on the USPS because it always does its job in a few days. However, if the service shuts down and mail delivery is handed over to private companies, not only will prices increase dramatically, but some people will just not get mail because the companies look at their addresses as a loss of profit. Again, the USPS is not made to generate money; rather, it is a service. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the USPS has become extremely necessary in providing everyone in the U.S. with dependable mail since more people are staying at home and relying on deliveries. The USPS cannot die out because it serves everyone in the U.S. by providing them with reliable, affordable mail and it should receive funding to continue doing so.

Voting By Mail Is Necessary

In the midst of a global pandemic, asking voters to put their lives at risk and head to polls is an unwise public health decision. Because of this, this election is dependent on mail-in ballots more than ever before. Voters should be able to vote from the safety of their homes and not have to choose between participating in a democratic process or staying safe and healthy. Unfortunately, if the changes made by DeJoy remain in place, ballots will not be delivered on time. In some cases, ballots might not be delivered at all. This is clearly an issue as, in the majority of states,  people have the right to vote through a mail-in process. The USPS’s shortcomings coinciding with the 2020 presidential election is unfortunate and probably not a coincidence, but providing the service with more money, as soon as possible, will prevent the disenfranchisement of many voters. More money should be allocated to the USPS to protect voters’ right to vote and to help make the election as fair as possible.

Changes Are Counterproductive

Postmaster DeJoy wants to consolidate power in the USPS. He claims that his changes to the service will put it on “firmer financial footing,” and uses this as reasoning to not only make the changes but to continue adding to them. His changes include cutting overtime for workers and requiring that mail is left behind to speed up the workday. While this sounds great in theory, because it saves the USPS money, this has only led to people not getting their mail. Even if these changes lower costs, they prevent the USPS from doing what it is intended to do: deliver mail in a timely manner. On top of this, DeJoy is a megadonor for the Trump campaign, so it is questionable whether he is making the changes because it is what is best for the service or because it is what the president wants. President Trump has already spoken at length about how he views mail-in ballots as fraudulent, scaring some voters from casting their votes. Whether he admits it or not, this disenfranchises many voters who would normally participate in elections, and would perhaps swing the election in his favor. At the end of the day, Postmaster DeJoy’s changes are not helping. Instead of trying to save the USPS money and slowing down mail delivery as a result, the government should provide the USPS with more funding so that it can do its job. The service was created with a purpose and the postmaster is only harming it.

What Now?

Mail service, specifically the USPS, is needed now more than ever. Mail-in ballots, especially, are needed for the upcoming election in three months. The changes made by Postmaster DeJoy are only hurting the USPS more; what is needed is more funding, not a reduction in spending. Congress has to take action to allocate more funds their way. Sign the petition advocating for the USPS to present to Congress the strong support behind the service. If their constituents exhibit enough interest, this will hopefully encourage them to give the USPS more funding and soon. In the meantime, buy from the USPS’s store and provide them with financial support! They sell items ranging from stamps to merchandise relating to postal service. A service that began in 1775 because of a need that still exists today cannot be terminated in 2020. The USPS must continue providing affordable and reliable mail to all but it needs Congress’s help to stay alive.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and/or student and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of United 4 Social Change Inc., its board members, or officers.
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