Mail-in voting has been a hot topic leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats have been promoting the idea of mail-in voting as a safer alternative, while Republicans — including President Donald Trump himself — are pointing out the potential dangers.
Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, clearly isn’t concerned with any potential pitfalls. He chose to flaunt that fact with a bizarre political stunt.
“They’re trying to tear apart our Postal Service piece by piece. But Peter DeFazio is defending our right to vote (and every mailbox in America),” DeFazio tweeted this week, along with a short video clip of himself.
They’re trying to tear apart our Postal Service piece by piece. But Peter DeFazio is defending our right to vote (and every mailbox in America). #USPSisEssential #USPS #SaveThePostOffice pic.twitter.com/f9s6syjuA9
— Peter DeFazio (@DeFazio4Oregon) August 18, 2020
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In the brief campaign ad, DeFazio is leaning up against a blue U.S. Postal Service mailbox on a street corner. A metal chain is loosely draped around his shoulders and wrapped around the body of the mailbox.
“They’re not getting this one,” DeFazio said.
DeFazio’s political stunt was likely an allusion to the conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump is controlling the mail system ahead of the general election to prevent people from voting via mail-in ballots.
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There is no evidence to confirm that conspiracy theory.
It is true that some USPS mailboxes are being removed from the streets, but the reasoning behind their removal is far from sinister.
“First-class mail volume has declined significantly in the U.S., especially since the pandemic,” Ernie Swanson, a spokesman for the USPS, told The Oregonian earlier this month.
“That translates to less mail in collection boxes.”
Swanson explained that the decline has naturally led the USPS to remove “duplicate” boxes that are in close proximity.
Additionally, the USPS has a process in place for removing some of its mailboxes from street locations. It’s nothing new, and it’s not just in the state of Oregon.
Mailboxes being taken from Massachusetts streets are likewise not an unusual sight, according to Boston.com.
“USPS spokesman Steve Doherty told Boston.com boxes that are rusted, in need of paint, or tagged with graffiti are brought into the service’s shop for repair, and new ones are installed to replace them,” according to the outlet.
Trump, for his part, has accused Democrats of holding up another round of economic relief by demanding billions of dollars for mail-in voting and the Postal Service.
“They want $3.5 billion for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent. That’s election money, basically,” the president said.
“They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes, universal mail-in ballots.”
Trump told Bartiromo that Democrats also demanded $25 billion be allocated for the Postal Service.
“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he said.
“But if [Democrats] don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting,” Trump added.
While Trump has acknowledged the benefit and importance of absentee voting, his issue with mail-in voting involves the potential for voter fraud given how overwhelmed the USPS already is.
The USPS has warned 46 states that it can’t guarantee mail-in ballots will be delivered in time to be counted for the presidential election, according to Business Insider.
Perhaps to alleviate concerns over how it will handle mail-in ballots, the USPS has recently launched a website that aims to help people with voting by mail.
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