In recent weeks, the public has shown increased concern (and reasonably so) for the mail system in relation to early voting.
As the presidential election approaches, there seems to be a growing amount of concern in regards to ensuring every vote counts, especially due to the recent events regarding the United States Postal Service and the uncertainty of timely delivery.
To quickly recap, USPS, a government agency, is reported to have been losing money for several years. However, this is reportedly due to a mandated healthcare funding program for retirement that other government agencies are not made to observe ( “congressionally mandated retirement healthcare funding program that no other government agency is required to observe” (Roddel, “Postal Service Losing Money”). This, in turn, has led USPS to lose about $6.5 billion annually.
In June, Trump donor Louis DeJoy was appointed as the new postmaster general, and was instructed by Trump to find ways to make the government agency more profitable. As a result, despite his denial of the claim, there have been confirmed reports that the agency, under DeJoy, plans to implement policies that will cut overtime pay for mail carriers, leading to a delay in the delivery of mail. Delays like these will impact not only the upcoming election, due to the large number of people that plan on mailing in their ballots, but also those in need of prescription medications that are time-sensitive.
So what steps can you take to make sure your vote is counted in the upcoming election? Despite Trump’s efforts to depict voting by mail as susceptible to fraud, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, it’s “as secure or more secure than traditional methods of voting”. The current concern is ensuring that everyone who plans on voting to vote by mail is aware of the related deadlines, applies for, and mails in their ballot in time for their vote to be counted. Due to the accelerated nature of this year’s election, a large number of states have already established deadlines (almost all in October) for absentee ballots, and it is essential that voters are aware of their state’s deadline.
The greater concern, however, is that the public will not request their ballots soon enough, but will, instead, wait until more attention is brought to the election, which may be too late, as not all states have the same experience with mail-in voting, and complication could cause further, unexpected delays. Therefore, it is essential that mail-in voters are aware of how to request an absentee ballot. Georgia voters can do so here. Ballots will not be sent out to voters before September 15th, and they must be returned to the polls before their closing time on November 3rd, or mailed in before your state’s deadline (though well-before is advised).
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