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The United States Postal Service and the November elections

Will the USPS be able to handle November ballots?

MINNEAPOLIS — "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." That is the United States Postal Service's motto when it comes to postal workers delivering mail.

This, despite years-long financial troubles for the institution.

"This year is no different," Professor Rick Geddes, the Director of the Cornell program of infrastructure policy said. "Its first quarter--April, May and June--I believe they lost about $2 billion so they're really faced with a difficult fiscal situation."

Geddes explained that because the USPS is bound by a 15-year-old Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, it's incredibly difficult for them to change its prices.

"It's very difficult for it to raise rates," he said. "So you've got this high-cost network it has to maintain in the face of limited or declining revenues."

That being said, the USPS motto comes back into light. Geddes said U.S. citizens should continue to put faith in their postal service come November, despite the new Post Master General, Louis DeJoy, cutting down on overtime. This means something a little bit different for mail-in ballots.

"What that means is, if a pile of mail comes into the post office, and they don't get it sorted by the end of the day, then they go home and come back and sort it the next day," Geddes said. "So I think voters should be ready for the mails to be a bit more slow and the ballots to be delivered slowly than they otherwise would if the postal service was paying its usual overtime. It will be sorted and delivered, it will just take a little longer than it would otherwise."

On the other side, social welfare groups (501(c)4's) like Rural America 2020 have released concerned statements about the USPS and its future.

“The Post Office is a lifeline in rural America, not a toy to play political games with. We rely on the Post Office to pay bills, receive our medications and link to the outside world. In some rural areas we have been getting our ballot by mail for years because our towns are too small for polling places.

It might be easy for someone from New York City to hold the Post Office hostage for political gain. But anyone in rural America knows that you are playing with people’s lives. In many pockets of rural America we don’t have FedEx or UPS. The Post Office is the only service that stretches into our communities."

Despite President Trump's fears about voter fraud regarding mail-in ballots, Minnesota's Secretary of State Steve Simon said it's extremely rare.

"We looked at it and it comes down to seven-ten thousandths of one percent," he said. "That's pretty good. If someone told you that your rate of error in whatever you choose to do--a job or a hobby or sport--anything would be seven-ten thousandths of one percent, you'd say sign me up. That's near perfection."