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Keeping the Focus on Value
By Ivan D. Butts
NAPS Executive Vice President
Hello, my NAPS brothers and sisters. I intended to focus on our vote-by-mail (VBM) initiatives and continue encouraging speaking out about the facts of the benefits of VBM in the face of those who, for various reasons, do not want America to have that level of access to democracy. Just to let you know, I will be straying from that focal point due to recent articles concerning USPS sustainability.
First, though, I want to thank every NAPS member who has stepped up to the plate to voice the need for VBM for the safety and assurance of America's democracy in electing our leaders in free and fair elections. We must continue this cause for the betterment of our nation.
Facts about VBM are being met with misinformation. Regarding the most misinformed issue of voter fraud, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in either regular voting or voting by mail. There has been no evidence of routine fraud in the five states that do all-mail elections, according to election experts.
Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah all have best practices, such as having a voter sign the envelope of the ballot, which they then match with the signature on the state’s voter rolls, or tracking the ballot with a bar code to and from a voter’s home. I also would add that my state, Maryland, observed the same practice for mail-in ballots issued for the 2020 primary elections. Maryland will be sending all registered voters mail-in ballots for the 2020 general election.
Then there is the issue of ballot harvesting, which is when a third-party collects ballots and mails them. The collection of uncompleted ballots, and subsequent alleged manipulation, led to an election being overturned in North Carolina in 2018.
However, experts—especially those with experience in the handful of states that vote entirely by mail—say states can implement practices such as ballot tracking, prepaid postage and ballot drop boxes, eliminating the need for voters to hand their ballots to a third party.
Despite the misinformation that some are attempting to pass off as facts, VBM continues to be America’s more secure, efficient and inclusive way to conduct fair and free elections. And not just in the current COVID-19 environment. It is the best way for America to maintain its democracy in the election process.
Okay, with all that said, I just read two articles concerning the USPS backtracking on estimates the agency made to legislative leaders. NAPS also has relied on these estimates in conducting grassroots advocacy on the sustainability of the USPS. Our efforts have helped move legislators to introduce numerous bills designed to address the Postal Service’s financial viability.
Some detractors of USPS sustainability began saying the USPS’ forecast was wrong and urged legislative leaders to seek a revision. The USPS now says the sustainability issue is a multiple-factor forecast. Forecast 1 predicts cash will be exhausted in March 2021, assumes packages will go back to pre-COVID-19 levels and the agency’s pandemic-related losses will amount to $17 billion in 2020 and 2021.
Forecast 2 assumes USPS cash will last until October 2021 and the pandemic-related losses in 2020 and 2021 will be limited to $7 billion.
So, we continue to fight for America’s Postal Service and wipe the egg off our faces amid another example of poor analytics put out by USPS Headquarters. In thinking about the level of misinformation over the years, it should be no wonder that some who genuinely support America’s Postal Service look at the leadership of USPS Headquarters like the fables “Chicken Little” or “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” when it comes to articulating financial sustainability of the USPS. The unreliability and inconsistency also may explain why it’s so hard to get postal reform passed.
NAPS, all the postal unions, our legislative champions and the majority of American citizens overwhelmingly support working to sustain America’s Postal Service. The USPS OIG launched a blog series in conjunction with National Postal Worker Day—July 1, 2020. The blog focuses on how the Postal Service has contributed to our national infrastructure. The link kicking off the series is https://www.uspsoig.gov/blog/value-nation.
I applaud all these positive grassroots efforts on behalf of America’s Postal Service. The shame is that, despite having the opportunity to demonstrate absolute transparency that could support all our grassroots efforts, it is business as usual for the leadership entrusted with America’s Postal Service.