With less than three months until the United States' presidential election on November 3, many governmental leaders and health officials have called for more options for citizens to vote, including mail-in voting ballots. Setting aside the political discourse as to whether or not national mail-in voting would harm the election outcome, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has now warned that they will not be able to guarantee that ballots sent through the mail will reach their destination on time before election deadlines.
What happened to the USPS?
The USPS has recently ran into various issues that have resulted in large-scale mail delays that have affected many Americans. The agency's issues came from a series of new decisions from the newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in a spree of cost cutting efforts. According to the Associated Press, DeJoy first eliminated overtime for postal workers and ended the practice of late-night deliveries. He then began to cut the amount of hours retail post offices where permitted to be open. Next, DeJoy began to dismantle mail processing machines and removed residential mailboxes from the country's streets.
All of the above actions have resulted in a nationwide slowdown of postal delivery.
Despite the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that most Americans vote by mail to risk exposure to the coronavirus at polling stations, President Donald Trump has been clear that he does not want to provide coronavirus relief funding to the USPS. Trump believes that nationwide mail-in voting will harm the integrity of the election and lead to widespread voting fraud.
Lawmakers in Washington have been calling for additional funding for the USPS to help the agency fully prepare for the influx in ballot circulation to be apart of federal coronavirus relief actions. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced on Sunday that she is calling the House of Representatives back early from its summer recess to vote on a bill later this week to block the recent changes to USPS operations.
In addition, DeJoy has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next Monday. The panel is currently investigating into whether the cost-cutting measures that he has introduced to the USPS could harm individual voting rights.
Bigger Threats Ahead
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated on Monday that state health authorities are concerned about the upcoming flu season as is merges with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, echoing similar warnings from other health officials about the colder months ahead.
"You're in the flu season. Everybody is sneezing, everybody is coughing and everybody has a runny nose. Who has the flu and who is possibly COVID positive? It becomes a much more difficult calculus," Cuomo stated during a Monday news conference in Albany, quoted by CNBC.
Cuomo stated that many of the COVID testing facilities around the state are the same ones that are used every flu season, warnings that laboratories may have to limit testing for both viruses as they would not be able to cope with the increased volume.
Health officials in the U.S. are concerned about the upcoming battle of two deadly viruses circulating within the population, especially as colder temperatures will move more people to gather together indoors with increase risks of infection. The coronavirus outbreak has continued to spread around the nation, with more than 5 million confirmed infections and at least 170,000 deaths arbitrated to the virus.