Amidst a global pandemic and during a major election year in the United States, president Donald Trump has set his sights on running the United States Postal Service into the ground. Following service cuts to the USPS under the eyes of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, mailboxes are being removed from neighborhoods, packages and priority pieces of mail are late arriving to their destinations, and postal employees are losing overtime, among other intentional attacks. All the while, Trump hasn’t been shy about the fact that he has been purposefully withholding relief funds for the service.
“They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion — BILLION — for the post office,” Trump told Fox Business journalist Maria Bartiromo on Thursday. But last week, the president explained the real reason he is withholding any relief aid has to do with the election and his desire to impede mail in voting. “Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting. They just can’t have it,” he admitted, prior to a White House press briefing where he confirmed he wouldn’t veto a relief bill that would aid the USPS.
Trump’s flip-flopping stance on whether or not he believes the USPS deserves emergency funding has made voters who were planning on relying on mail-in ballots for November’s election nervous. Service cuts are drawing out delivery times and delaying the arrival of important documents, sparking fear and worry amongst those who don’t want to risk visiting the polls during the pandemic that their ballots may not be counted during the election final tally.
While Americans continue to increase independent efforts to help save the USPS — from buying stamps en masse to signing petitions — the reality is that the American post office is under attack, and these efforts may be fraught come November. Now, many are seeking out alternate ways to safely vote without relying on a mailing system under attack. Ahead, we've outlined how voters can still submit ballots received by mail without relying on a mail service to return them.
Use ballot drop boxes
A reliance on drop boxes, created specifically for delivering mail-in ballots, may become more common as the days leading up to the election dwindle. California, Washington, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Hawaii, Oregon, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona are currently the only states that have drop boxes available to voters, though for states considering creating their own, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission recommends making their location public 80 days before the election, which would've been August 15. If drop boxes are available in your state, you can bring your filled out ballot directly there to be counted.
Deliver ballots to a local politician’s office
Voters relying on mail-in ballots have the option to drop off their ballots at their local politician’s office in some states. Voters may also be able to drop off ballots at their local polling place. Those interested can check the Board of Elections website or the Secretary of State website to see if it’s an option for them.
Try in-person early voting
Early voting is an option around the U.S. for voters looking to avoid large crowds, no doubt including the surge of people who can still turn up to the polls in November. Voters worried about their mail-in ballots possibly getting lost prior to the big election can opt to vote early to guarantee their voices are heard. In order to check if and when early voting is available in your area, you can locate state-by-state information here, as well as contacts to local voting places.
Organize a community ballot drop
If your state offers the option for appointed groups, organizations, or individuals to return ballots on behalf of others, this could be a good solution to safely casting your ballot. This system is currently available in 26 states, where a designated person can collect and return a limited number of ballots on behalf of others deemed high-risk or unable to submit their own. You can help organize a community ballot collection in your area by checking to see if your state has this rule and organizing with neighbors or friends.