A round-up of the slow motion coup via USPS

We are watching the election being stolen, right now, and fuck-all is being done about it.

Trump Can Do More Than Attack Post Office Funding. He's Mounting A Legal War Against Mailed Ballots.

Starving the Postal Service of funding is just one tool at the president's disposal to slow or stop the counting of ballots sent by mail. Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee are already engaged in litigation to prevent voters from easily casting absentee or mail-in ballots. In Pennsylvania, they are trying to block the implementation of ballot drop boxes ― curbside boxes where voters can drop their absentee ballots to be picked up by election officials. In California, the RNC tried to stop the mailing of ballots to all voters, but failed. And the Trump campaign is also challenging a new Nevada law that would mail ballots to all active voters.

Trump administration figures are also discussing potential executive actions that could curb mail-in balloting in an effort to undermine democratic elections, according to Politico. These include directing the Postal Service not to deliver mailed ballots and ordering state officials to stop counting absentee ballots on Election Day, even though the president doesn't have legal authority to do either of these things.

The plot is simple: Trump hopes to emerge from Election Day with a slim lead, but with millions of absentee ballots still left to count. Then he will fight tooth and nail to stop those ballots, which he has long painted as "fraudulent," from ever being counted. [...]

Polls already show that Democratic Party voters will likely cast a high proportion of provisional ballots. An ABC/Washington Post poll conducted in July found that 51% of Democrats plan to cast their vote by absentee ballot in November compared to 20% of Republicans. A Marquette University Law School poll found a similar split among voters in Wisconsin, a key swing state.

This means that Trump could come out ahead on Election Day with millions, or tens of millions, of absentee and provisional ballots still left to count.

Internal USPS Documents Outline Plans to Hobble Mail Sorting:

The United States Postal Service proposed removing 20 percent of letter sorting machines it uses around the country [...] The vast majority of them were delivery bar code sorters (DBCS), the type that sort letters, postcards, ballots, marketing mail and other similarly sized pieces. [...]

Motherboard also viewed documents from the same region that laid out detailed plans to reroute mail to sorting facilities further away in order to centralize mail processing even if it moves the mail across further distances. To the union officials, the result of these plans was clear: "This will slow mail processing," one wrote in large font. [...]

"Donald Trump made clear that he is dismantling the Postal Service so he can steal the election by making it harder to vote by mail," said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a signatory of the letter. "Removing 20 percent of the Postal Service's sorting and processing equipment looks like another part of his plan to bulldoze a vital American institution just to cling to power."

"The Trump Administration is launching an all-out war on the U.S. Postal Service," said West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, another letter signatory. "Several weeks ago we learned they had unexpectedly announced closures of several West Virginia post offices. Then we learned of their plans to change the regulations surrounding the first class mail and election mail. Now we're hearing reports that the post office is removing sorting machines and reducing capacity a few months before an election where we'll see more mail-in ballots than ever before. This is insane."

USPS tells Pennsylvania it can't deliver mail ballots on time:

The U.S. Postal Service has warned Pennsylvania that some mail ballots might not be delivered on time because the state's deadlines are too tight for its "delivery standards," prompting election officials to ask the state Supreme Court to extend the deadlines to avoid disenfranchising voters. [...]

Some counties set up drop boxes in the primary election so voters could hand-deliver their ballots without relying on the mail. But the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee have sued the state to block drop boxes from being used in November.

DingusJMcGee:

See, up until just two months ago, every letter carrier, clerk, mail handler, truck driver, etc, worked under one pretty simple philosophy: every piece, every address, every day. Everyone in the chain of custody for mail made sure every piece got as far along in the system as it could, and if it made it to my hands, in my office, it was getting delivered. That's how I've done it for my career, how the guys who have been doing it for forty years have always done it, and that's literally how Ben Fucking Franklin's guys did it. You can almost hear Aaron Sorkin's orgasm as he punches up the Bradley Whitford speech about the majesty of it all.

But two months ago is also when that abruptly stopped. After a couple hundred years, it just...stopped. [...]

You know that old motto-that-isn't-actually-our-motto? The whole "Neither rain, nor snow..." spiel about getting the mail to you? We actually took that pretty damn seriously. Like I said, I've worked the better part of a decade for this agency, and I can count on zero hands how many times I've personally withheld delivery of mail without a goddamn good reason. I've jumped fences, climbed walls, MacGyver'd my way past broken locks, outrun dogs, split my pants in a downpour and gone for another five hours anyway, all because maybe, very possibly, I was holding something important to someone that they'd been waiting on.

jfricker:

No everyone, Amazon can not deliver ballots. They are a tiny operation compared to USPS. 2019 deliveries:

Amazon 2.5b
FedEx 3b
UPS 4.7b

USPS 142.6b

Save the USPS, save the country.

Meanwhile, rather than impeaching the Postmaster General, or deposing these people under oath, or even issuing subpoenas, the House has gone back on vacation for a month.

andmichaelgreen:

TRUMP: I am illegally defunding the Post Office so less people can vote.
DEMOCRATS: *fewer

hordie:

TRUMP: I'm defunding the post office to disenfranchise voters and win re-election.
PELOSI: *tweets photo of Democrats solemnly kneeling with hands on a mailbox*

How To Vote In The 2020 Election: A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19.

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35 Responses:

  1. Zyni Moë says:

    Wonder when historians will decide western civilisation fell? First Trump term or first reign / first Ivanka reign after his death? Did Romans know when their empire fell (no)?

    • Nick Lamb says:

      Not "Western civilisation" just the ill-fated American experiment. The third election, November 2024.

      America's system of government is known to be a bad design. It's like nul-terminated strings or bank-switched addressing, people tried that, it's a bad idea, avoid. During the 20th century even American state-builders learned "OK, do not build new countries like the United States, that design is inherently unstable". It was just hard to break the news back home.

      And November 2024 is where there ceases to be any residual value in pretending the US is actually a democracy and might not "elect" Trump. Once it is clear that most American citizens will not actually battle heavily armed "police" for their rights, the "joke" that Trump may seek a Third Term becomes a fact, politicians who were a bit too loud, who wouldn't take a hint - they "disappear" and those remaining realise it won't pay to complain. The United States of America is now an autocracy.

      • Zyni Moë says:

        Do not think remainder of west will survive fall of US. UK already has fallen to dunning-kruger technocracy of cummings, will probably become explicitly fascist after first expulsion of EU citizens in 2022 ('was their fault they must go') and second cull of gypsies. Nuclear exchange between US and China in 2032 will halve US population, following mass refugees from US to EU combined with harvest failure due to climate change will severely damage EU (parts on channel already lost due radiation from UK badly hit as US ally in war, few survived there). Germany and France will remain as 'western civilisation' slowly declining into dark ages like Byzantium.

      • Lloyd says:

        Coincidentally, null-terminated strings and bank-switched addressing are inventions that started as American experiments.

  2. bibulb says:

    Hey, Susan Collins has written a MODERATELY STERN LETTER about her concerns. Shit gonna get done now.

    Or as I also put it, "That oughta do it. Thanks very much, Ray."

  3. Dude says:

    Nada shot the antenna and everyone can see the aliens; they aren't even trying to hide anymore.

    There's a Louis XIV / Marie Antoinette moment coming.

    • Dude says:

      Also, I just now noticed the use of tiny hands in the image above:

    • Dude says:

      Well, on the... I hesitate to call it "the optimistic side", but hey... Today, Wired (Beware: paywall) posted an article in favour of in-person voting.

      Their basis for doing so was last week's National Geographic special report in which Dr. Fauci said:

      I think if carefully done, according to the guidelines, there's no reason that I can see why that not be the case. For example, when you look at going to a grocery store now in many regions and counties and cities that are doing it correctly, they have “X”s every six or more feet. And it says, "Don't leave this spot until the person in front of you left their spot".
      And you can do that, if you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing, and don't have a crowded situation, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to do that. I mean, obviously if you're a person who is compromised physically or otherwise, you don't want to take the chance. There's the situation of mail-in voting that has been done for years in many places. So there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to vote in person or otherwise.

      (It's at 22:53 in the following video)

      Obviously, this does not excuse Trump's outright attack on the USPS (or any public service or institution - and he's gone at many), but it does suggest that the polling place might not be completely off-limits to the safety-conscious. (Here in the Bay Area, precautions would definitely be a priority.)

      Hell, last election I filled out my ballot at home, then dropped it at polling station in-person.

  4. robert_ says:

    As an observer from another country, what strikes me is how weak the Democratic party is in all of this. Their responses seem to have been nothing more than performative. Do they actually think they are really making a difference, really 'fighting back'?

    I wonder whether the party elite either don't care because they have a comfy existence or are in fact closet Republicans.

    • McDanno says:

      There's not really much of a difference that the democrats can make, to be honest.

      - Despite our blog host's frustration, they probably can't impeach the postmaster general as that position isn't appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate, but by the USPS Board of Governors. Even if they could impeach, the senate would surely acquit in about 10 minutes, like they did Trump.

      - Depositions under oath, and subpoenas? Sure, defy those or lie, and you'll get smacked with contempt of congress. That gets referred to the US Attorney for DC for prosecution, another Trump appointee. Think he'll prioritize that one, or just let it slide? Two guesses and the first one doesn't count.

      The sad fact is, America is just now coming to terms that its government has operated on the honor system for the past 200+ years, and when one of the two parties decides they'll just stop following the rules, there really isn't much to stop them. And our pusillanimous, "both sides" media will happily blame "Congress" instead of "republicans."

    • elm says:

      Controlling one chamber of one of three branches of government is not a great position of power.

  5. phuzz says:

    Trump: Mail in ballots are fraud
    Also Trump: *applies for mailed ballot

  6. tfb says:

    I think that Trump will just clearly win. He'll win because so many people are now involved in actions related to him which are so obviously illegal. All of those people know that their only hope of staying out of gaol is that Trump must win. As the latest example the USPS guy: he's just obviously guilty of trying to subvert democracy in the US and if Trump loses he's fucked. There must be hundreds and hundreds of people for whom this is true, many of them in very powerful positions. All of those people know that unless Trump wins they're fucked, so all of those people will do anything to make sure he wins.

  7. I still want the House to step up and use Inherent Contempt. Don't refer contempt for prosecution, just stuff the contemnors in a cell until they start talking. It's a mystery why they have not been doing this all along.

    • Ham Monger says:

      Who will physically do the stuffing into cells? The Sergeant at Arms? The DC National Guard who helped clear Black Lives Matter Plaza? Individual Representatives?

      As McDanno said above, the next step would be referral to a 45 appointee, which will have approximately zero effect. Is anything better than nothing? Yes, but I'm not seeing how the threat of a contempt order has any teeth.

      • Yes, the Sergeant At Arms handles Inherent Contempt. And as many deputies as he needs.

        • elm says:

          The Sergeant at Arms doesn't have the staff to do this. It would be doubling down on a weak hand.

          • "And as many deputies as he needs."

            • elm says:

              What number do you suppose that is?

                • elm says:

                  It's a fair question. What number size force does be command? What are their competencies and loyalty? Are they suited to the task in mind?

                  Was the last exercise of this power not in 1934?

                  Overestimating ones abilities doesn't serve any good ends.

                  • mds says:

                    1934, by the Senate, against a former Hoover administration official who showed up at the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms' house and stayed overnight before being transferred to a hotel. An already-rare, and final, use of a power that Congress had decided in 1857 that it would prefer not to use. But the power is still there, though I'm not completely sure where "and as many deputies as he needs" comes from, since that's traditionally associated with Congressional security matters. Regardless, Mr. Irving could conceivably call upon the Capitol Police to assist him in detaining current members of the executive branch ... which would still have more guns at its disposal. Ah, well, nevertheless.

                    (Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi is reconvening the House to consider Rep. Maloney's legislation and to hold hearings, something like six states are looking into legal proceedings, and the press are actually making a bit of noise about all of this. Other than that, though, nothing's being done.)

  8. Thomas Lord says:

    Let's hypothesize what it would take to have a legitimate election in November, less than 90 days away. We must:

    1. Restore the postal service.

    2. Undo all the gerrymandering.

    3. Restore all the removed polling places.

    4. Reverse all of the targeted voter registration removals.

    5. Ensure that every vote is actually counted and that tallies are certified.

    To do all of this, in less than 90 days, will require not only federal action but state by state action, in many cases overcoming years of election tinkering by GOP-dominated legislatures.

    All of this is to say that there will not be a legitimate election in November. We live in a hollowed-out, failed state that has, evidently, been subject to a successful coup d'etat by what appear to be, more or less, outright nazis.

    Simultaneously, either the economy remains suppressed and even more is shut down, or there is no chance of limiting global heating to levels that would likely allow continuity of civilization.

    There are collective actions that we can take now to put this shit to bed and free ourselves. I won't delve into a long polemic but very generally these involve withholding labor from the economy and taking care of our shared needs in more direct and cooperative ways.

    • MattyJ says:

      Uh, a huge chunk of the US has been involuntarily withholding labor from the economy for some time and it hasn't done much to restore democracy. Just sayin'.

      • Thomas Lord says:

        I'll stick to my no polemic impulse and you can find me on twitter or something if you want to understand this better but, yes, withholding labor en masse does not restore liberal democracy, and that's fine.

    • elm says:

      Correct, the US will not have it's first ever legitimate election in November. It hasn't had one in the last 200+ years and it won't now.

      It almost surely will have one that removes a fascist.

      The alternative to participation is definitely more fascism and immediate mass death.

      The imperfect candidate opposing the fascist is a slightly open door to any future existing.

      • Nick Lamb says:

        "Legitimate" is a moving target. In 1820 most Americans weren't permitted to vote (you needed to be wealthy, white and male). In 2020 more Americans won't bother to vote than will be denied the right to do so.

        • elm says:

          A great many will be denied access to voting. Another great many will overcome attempts to prevent them from voting. Another group will choose not to vote for a number of reasons.

          The fact that some will choose not to vote doesn't make the process free and fair.

          US elections are illegitimate in a number of ways, they are also important and can produce roughly fair outcomes. They can definitely produce outcomes that are more or less useful.

          The major reason to participate in the upcoming election (which will be manipulated) is to preserve the possibility of better elections to come.

          If Trump remains on office, the future will be decidedly uglier than the past and the US will not have another election that is as fair/unfair as what have come before.

  9. Nick Lamb says:

    2. Undo all the gerrymandering.

    Gerrymandering has been priced into US politics for a very long time. Vice President Elbridge Gerry died over two hundred years ago.

  10. Jason McHuff says:

    What we really need is multiple-choice "approval" voting. That and citizen-funded campaigns (by allowing people to direct some of their tax dollars) would get us much better representatives that are actually accountable and would never have gotten us into this mess.

    It's not a true democracy when candidates get to monopolize every supporter's vote and obstruct them from supporting others.

  11. tfb says:

    One possibly-reliable way to make sure he loses is actually fairly simple: vote in person.

    This means that many people will die, which is a terrible cost to pay to win a democratic election. But if the alternative is fascism, a civil war, or both perhaps it is not such a huge cost.

    I don't live in the US so I don't have to decide, and I can therefore conveniently pretend that if I did I would decide to take the risk (mostly the risk to others, of course, which makes it worse). But it's a horrid choice: to avoid the fascists winning you have to behave like one.

    Is it possible to apply for a postal ballot and then to choose, late in the day, to vote in person instead or is it a choice you make once? If you can choose late in the day then it's not so bad, while if you have to choose early it's a horrible choice. So I expect they'll try to make it that. Here, I think you have to choose once, but you get the option of handing in the postal vote at a polling station, which seems an OK compromise to me, although it would allow them to choose to not take account of 'postal' votes even when they did not actually arrive by post because they can tell which is which. So they probably will do that as well.

    • margaret says:

      there's no "one size fits all" answer here. it can and does vary from state to state, county by county, precinct by precinct. what you describe is pretty much how i've been voting for the last fifteen years or so. i'm a permanent mail-in voter but often i forget to drop my ballot in the mail early enough so i drop it off at a polling place on the day of. i'm in california where they actually want to make it easy for citizens to vote so its all pretty frictionless.

      • margaret says:

        (my post must have busted my cache on this page and now i see i wrote the same thing as mark from ohio.)

  12. Mark says:

    > Is it possible to apply for a postal ballot and then to choose, late in the day, to vote in person instead or is it a choice you make once?

    This (and almost everything else about US voting) varies state by state. In my state (Ohio) everyone can request a mail-in ballot. If you request one and then choose not to use it (including if it doesn't show up), you can cast a "provisional" ballot in person. My understanding is that there's more history of provisional ballots being mishandled than there is for on-time mail-in ballots. But mail-in ballots that arrive past the deadline — regardless of when they were mailed — are definitely ignored.

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