Dot’s Reading Room: Steve Coll in The New Yorker ~ The US Postal Service and the Upcoming Election

Is the Postal Service Being Manipulated to Help Trump Get Reëlected? By Steve Coll in The New Yorker, July 29, 2020. Read Coll’s New Yorker article here:

The headline may be alarmist but many of us have genuine concerns about mail-in ballots in the coming election.  As Steve Coll, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, points out in this article, different states have different dates for accepting and counting mail-in ballots.

Some states require the ballot to be received two weeks in advance of the election, others will accept any ballot postmarked before the actual date. This year the coronavirus pandemic has brought a surge in the use of mailed ballots.  People are fearful of going to the polls in person and we saw how that played out in Wisconsin recently.

As Coll writes, “The ways that legal votes may fail to be counted are as diverse as the jurisdictions that will process the ballots, yet there is one big national institution that will play a decisive role: the United States Postal Service.”

In Massachusetts, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin has issued the following guidelines

“To vote by mail, all you need to do is:

Applications must reach your local election office by August 26 for the State Primary. Applications must reach your local election office by October 28 for the State Election.

State Primary ballots need to be back at your local election office by 8 p.m. on September 1.

State Election ballots need to be postmarked no later than November 3 and must be back at your local election office no later than November 6.”

So, Massachusetts is a “postmarked” state; some states are not and this is a gamble for the voter — if mail is delayed and if the ballot isn’t received in time to be counted, there is no way to check when the ballot was actually put in the mail.

Newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has issued a memo to all postal workers outlining new work, even instructing employees to leave mail behind at distribution centers if it delayed letter carriers from their routes. You can read DeJoy’s memo here:  (Internal memo obtained and published by the Post.)

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