Concerns about mail-in voting have deepened after the postal service warned officials in the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania that some ballots may not be delivered in time.
Additionally, it was revealed President Donald Trump had an Oval Office meeting last week with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy amid allegations the billionaire mega-donor to the Republican Party has put policies in place that are holding up delivery of the mail.
The White House told The Washington Post the meeting was a ‘congratulatory’ meeting because DeJoy was recently appointed to the position but it came before his tense meeting on Capitol Hill last week with Democratic Leaders Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
Worries about mail-in ballots making it to officials in time to be counted are increasing as President Donald Trump criticizes the system but has requested an absentee ballot from Florida
It was revealed President Donald Trump held an Oval Office meeting with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (above) last week before DeJoy’s meeting with Democrats on Capitol Hill
Officials in Pennsylvania have asked the state Supreme Court to extend the voting deadline after the U.S. Postal Service issued a warning that not all ballots may be delivered on time
Trump has said he hasn’t spoken with DeJoy about the new policies he’s put in place in the postal system – including firing executives and limiting overtime work, which DeJoy says is to make the service financially soluble.
With almost 180 million voters eligible to vote by mail in November’s contest, worries have been piling up about whether those ballots will make it to state officials in time to be counted. President Trump has been an outspoken critic of mail-in voting but postal workers charge DeJoy’s new policies with causing delays that Democrats say could lead to voter disenfranchisement.
Several battleground states that will decide the contest are expected to be affected, including Pennsylvania, where the U.S. Postal Service warned in a July 29 letter that there is a ‘significant risk’ ballots won’t be delivered on time because the state’s voting deadlines are too tight for ‘delivery standards.’
Election officials there have asked the state Supreme Court to expand voting deadlines in order to make sure every ballot is counted, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
If the state court agrees the result of the contest between Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden may not be known until days after Election Day.
Trump won the state by less than 1 percent of the vote in 2016 and this year’s contest could be just as close.
State officials, led by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, wants the court to allow mail-in ballots to be counted if they are received by the Friday after Election Day as long as there is no proof they were mailed after November 2 – such as a postmark.
Pennsylvania law currently requires that mail ballots be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
The state will also set up drop boxes for voters to deposit their ballot instead of having to rely on the mail system.
Several other states are wrestling with mail-in voting issues after governors expanded that option to help combat the coronavirus.
Trump has been a longtime critic of mail-in voting but defends absentee voting. He and first lady Melania Trump have already requested and received absentee ballots in Florida to vote in November’s election.
Additionally, the Republican National Committee told the Associated Press it has doubled its legal budget to sue states on the mail-in voting issue to $20 million and is currently involved in about 40 election-related lawsuits.
Meanwhile, President Trump said Thursday he’s blocking the coronavirus relief measure because of Democrats’ funding request for the Post Office, arguing it’s ‘election money’ for universal mail-in voting.
‘Now, they need that money in order to make the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,’ Trump said in an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo.
Democrats have put $25 billion for emergency funding for the Post Office in their $3 trillion version of the coronavirus relief legislation – money that President Trump opposes.
‘That’s election money basically,’ he told Bartiromo.
‘If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting,’ he explained of both the Post Office funding and the overall Democratic top line number of $3 trillion.
‘Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting. They just can’t have it,’ he said.
President Donald Trump said he was holding up the coronavirus relief talks because he doesn’t want a Democratic provision giving additional funding for the Post Office, arguing it will bring about universal mail-in voting
Many states are using mail-in voting to combat the coronavirus pandemic; in Washington state where election workers sort ballots in the above voting, mail-in voting has been the normal for years
Voters in Florida drop off their ballots in the August primary
President Trump is a frequent, fervent critic of mail-in voting, which he claims leads to election fraud – a claim fiercely disputed by critics and even his own party, which fears losing losing votes if its supporters do not mail their ballots.
He and the Republican Party have launched lawsuits in states that have opted to go with universal mail-in voting in November as a way to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
But his comments on Thursday were some of his most specific to date about how he planned to stop mail-in ballots this fall.
‘They want $25 billion for the Post Office because the Post Office is going to have to go to town to get these great ridiculous ballots in,’ Trump complained.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said mail-in voting is a ‘health issue’ this year given the coronavirus, which has infected more than 5 million Americans.
‘It’s a health issue in 2019,’ she said Thursday morning on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’
‘It’s even more so in the time of the pandemic, so when the president goes after the Postal Service he’s going after an all-American, highly approved by the public institution; like as we would say – before you were born – motherhood, apple pie, the Postal Service, an all-American institution,’ she added.
And presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said the president didn’t want an election.
‘Pure Trump. He doesn’t want an election,’ he told reporters at an event in Wilmington when asked about the president’s comments.
Governors have expressed concern about long lines at the ballot box and pointed out that many election workers are retirees, making them in the high-risk category to get the disease.
And the post office has warned states to keep in mind the time it takes to mail and return ballots in order to ensure timely delivery for the November election. Postal workers have charged that changes put in place by DeJoy – a Republican donor appointed to the job by Trump – have caused mail delays.
It’s sparked fears among Democrats the postal service is being politicized ahead of November and that the millions of voters expected to use the system to send in their ballot may be disenfranchised.
DeJoy has denied the allegation.
‘Despite any assertions to the contrary, we are not slowing down Election Mail or any other mail,’ he said last week.
Nevada, California and Vermont have opted for universal mail-in voting because of the virus. Five states already conduct elections by mail-in ballots. And many other states have allowed fear of the coronavirus to be used as a reason for requesting an absentee ballot. Other states, like Michigan, are preemptively sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters.
Republicans are suing in several of these states to stop these efforts. They claim mail-in voting leads to ‘ballot harvesting’ – a process where the voter fills out their ballot but party volunteers mail them in for that voter and other voters. Democrats counter it’s merely collecting ballots of those who vote to ensure they are delivered.
President Trump often rails against desires widespread mail-in voting, claiming it will increase chances of fraud and disproportionately benefit Democrats; studies have shown there is very little voter fraud in the United States
President Trump suggested in his press briefing Wednesday that he would not sign off on a relief bill that allocates billions going towards mail-in voting.
‘They turned down this bill because they want radical left agenda items that nobody in their right mind would approve,’ Trump said of Democrats refusing to agree to the GOP bill proposed at the end of last month.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has denied that politics are at play in the post office ahead of the November election
‘The bill’s not going to happen because they don’t even want to talk about it because we can’t give them the kind of ridiculous things that they want that have nothing to do with the China virus,’ he said, again referencing mail-in voting and money for the Post Office.
‘So therefore, they don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting, so therefore they can’t do it, I guess, right?’ he proposed. ‘Are they going to do it even though they don’t have the money?’
He also argued what Democrats are doing is a bigger threat than to the November election than reports from U.S. foreign agencies that Russia, China and Iran are trying to interfere in the presidential contest.
‘It’s going to be the greatest fraud in the history of elections,’ he argued of the Democrats.
Trump’s revelation about his role in blocking the coronavirus relief measure comes as negotiations between the administration and Capitol Hill have stalled.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has tried to blame Democrats for not being willing to negotiate.
Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have countered they offered to come down from their $3 trillion proposal if Republicans will come up from their $1 trillion one to meet in the middle at $2 trillion.