President Donald Trump admitted in a Thursday morning interview with Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo that he will block additional USPS funding and election assistance to sabotage mail-in voting.
Throughout the pandemic, Trump has been hostile to giving emergency funds or grants to the cash-strapped USPS, which saw a major revenue shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also aggressively spread false and exaggerated claims that mail voting is inherently fraudulent. In reality, rates of fraud are extremely low and expanding mail voting does not hurt or benefit either political party.
In a Wednesday evening press conference, Trump said he would not sign off on either the $25 billion in emergency funds for the USPS or $3.5 billion grant to help the post office's processing of election mail that Democrats are advocating for in the next possible federal COVID-19 relief bill.
He said the same thing during an interview Thursday morning with Fox Business.
"They want $25 billion for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots," Trump said in the Thursday interview. "Now in the meantime, they're not getting there. But if they don't get those two items that means you can't have universal mail-in voting...because they're not equipped."
-The Recount (@therecount) August 13, 2020
Trump actively opposes any measures to help the Post Office. He refused to sign the CARES Act stimulus package if it included a bailout for the agency, the Washington Post reported on April 11.
"We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [money for the Postal Service] was in it," an administration official told the Post. "I don't know if we used the v-bomb, but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that."
The Post reported that while Congress initially intended on giving the Postal Service a $13 billion grant, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stepped in to quash the measure, telling lawmakers, "You can have a loan, or you can have nothing at all."
The former postmaster general has since retired and was replaced by Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina shipping and logistics executive and a prolific Republican donor with no experience working at the Postal Service.
Under DeJoy, the USPS has implemented new cost-saving measures, including limiting overtime for postal carriers, cracking down on late trips by postal carriers to deliver mail, and implementing a hiring freeze, that critics say are already slowing mail delivery in some area and could impact the November election by preventing voters' ballots from being delivered on time.
In addition to admitting his motivation to block USPS funding specifically to undermine mail voting and the integrity of the election, the reasoning behind Trump's opposition to more USPS funding is faulty.
Tthe United States as a whole does not have "universal mail-in voting." Before the pandemic, five states sent all registered voters a ballot in the mail that could be returned by mail or to a ballot drop box. Washington and Oregon have done so for decades.
Four more states, Nevada, Montana, California, Vermont, and the District of Columbia are sending all or most registered voters a mail ballot while also offering scaled-back in-person voting for the November election.
Ten more states are sending all or most active registered voters a mail ballot application in the mail, according to the Washington Post.
And while the current USPS policy changes appear to be slowing down timely mail delivery in some areas, experts dispute Trump's assertion that the postal service cannot handle an additional load of ballots.
Amber McReynolds, the former director of the Denver Elections Division and CEO of The National Vote At Home Institute, told Insider in April that when properly funded, the post office is a remarkably effective tool for administering mail-in elections.
"They have the ability with their equipment and everything to run it at a level that must of us would never expect, it's massive," McReynolds said. When put into perspective, she said, the number of ballots the Postal Service processes is just a blip on the radar of their total operations.
"The Postal Services estimates they process about 140 billion pieces of mail a year. And when we talk about 250 million mail ballots for say, every American, that's only about 0.2% of their normal volume," she said.
If you plan to vote by mail this November, experts recommend requesting your ballot as soon as possible and returning it in the mail at least a week in advance, or hand-delivering it back to your local elections office or to a ballot dropbox, if it's an option in your state.