Following news that President Donald Trump would attempt to block funding for the nation’s postal deliveries, Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker joined the rest of the Senate Democrats in calling on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to fix delays and halt planned vote-by-mail price hikes.
The coalition of Senators argued if unaddressed, it would would become more difficult, more expensive, and take longer for mail ballots to be used in the coming election.
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) allows state and local officials to send materials authorized or required under the Act, such as absentee ballot applications, at USPS Nonprofit Marketing Mail prices.
“These prices are lower than the regular USPS Marketing Mail prices and election officials across the country rely on the lower rates to send voters important election mail in a cost-effective manner,” the Senators wrote.
A Focus on the Postmaster General
The letter was sent to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, whom the senators argued had not been able to provide satisfactory answers regarding the actions he had taken.
Additionally, they alleged he had not substantiated his continued assertions election officials must pay the First Class rate for election mail to be prioritized.
“Like voting itself, the [USPS] is vital to our democracy. Since you assumed the role of Postmaster General, there have been disturbing reports regarding changes at USPS that are causing significant delays in the delivery of mail. Under normal circumstances, delayed mail is a major problem—during a pandemic in the middle of a presidential election, it is catastrophic,” the Senators wrote.
Response to President Trump
The letter followed previous requests from the lawmakers after DeJoy refused to answer whether reported changes restricting mail delivery came at his direction. The Postmaster General has since confirmed this fact.
Business Insider reported Aug. 11 that the president said he would block additional funding for election assistance to the USPS during an interview with FoxBusiness’ Maria Bartiromo. He noted on Aug. 10 he would not sign off on either the $25 billion in emergency funds for the USPS or a $3.5 billion grant to help it process election-related mail.
“They want $25 billion—billion—for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said. “Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. By the way, those are just two items. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting … because they’re not equipped.”
NJ House Dems Actions
The Senate letter comes on the the heels of New Jersey Democrats in the House of Representatives are pressing for answers on a slow down in service being provided by the USPS.
The congressional delegation is calling on the DeJoy to provide answers to why New Jersey residents have had mail delivery delayed for multiple days, including the delivery of critical medicines.
The letters states “Many of our constituents have rightly contacted our offices to express frustration and concern about ongoing mail delivery delays, some of whom have not received their medications and first-class mail for more than three days.”
Additionally, Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to order a general election conducted almost entirely through vote-by-mail ballots (VBM). Nearly 6.2 million voters would automatically receive VBM ballots for the November general election, with limited in-person polling locations available for voters requiring special assistance or for the casting of provisional ballots.
Among the action Murphy will propose is to expand the number of secure ballot drop box locations for the general election and continue to extend the number of days for ballots postmarked by Election Day to arrive at county election offices and still be counted.