The Trumpeter is Terrified of Voting by Mail


(and hates the Post Office Bigly, wants it privatized)  Let’s call this by it’s name: Catch-22

Trump holds up coronavirus aid to block Democrats’ bid for election funding’, msn.com, Aug 13, 2020

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Thursday said his team was rejecting Democrats’ bid to include funds for the U.S. Postal Service and to shore up election infrastructure in a new coronavirus relief bill, as he vowed to block money to facilitate mail-in voting.

Congressional Democrats accused Trump of trying to damage the struggling Postal Service in an effort to improve his chances of being re-elected in November.

Trump said his negotiators have resisted Democrats’ calls for additional money to help prepare for presidential, congressional and local voting during a pandemic that has killed more than 165,000 Americans and presented severe logistical challenges to organizing large events like the Nov. 3 election.

“The items are the post office and the $3.5 billion for mail-in voting,” Trump told Fox Business Network, saying Democrats want to give the post office $25 billion. “If we don’t make the deal, that means they can’t have the money, that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.”

‘Just Comes Out and Says It’: Trump Declares Postal Service Can’t Handle Mail-In Voting Because He’s Blocking Funding;“This is crazy by any standard. The president of the United States is actively trying to sabotage the election.”, Aug. 13, 2020, commondreams.org (Creative Commons)

“President Donald Trump proclaimed Wednesday that the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t have the capacity to handle an unprecedented increase in mail-in ballots because it lacks funds that his administration is blocking, remarks that were immediately viewed as an open admission of election sabotage by a president who has previously called USPS “a joke.”

In talks over the CARES Act in March, Trump threatened to veto the sweeping relief legislation if it included a $13 billion direct grant to USPS that lawmakers originally agreed to provide. The bill ultimately included a $10 billion loan—to which Trump’s Treasury Department attached conditions that critics warned will give the administration unprecedented access to USPS operations.

Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos Elections said “Trump is stripping the U.S. Postal Service for parts both to thwart mail voting that threatens his re-election and so his cronies can profiteer off of it as the GOP has long wanted to.”

Ahead of the president’s briefing, the entire Senate Democratic caucus sent a letter slamming Postmaster General Louis DeJoy—a major Republican donor to Trump—for “considering changes that would increase costs for states at a time when millions of Americans are relying on voting by mail to exercise their right to vote.”

Watch Trump’s remarks: [as if anyone could stand to watch and listen for an hour and 31 mins.]

Let’s also call this what it is: Drivel plus: Don’t Vote Third Party

‘A Message to the Left About Kamala Harris—And Us; If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are elected, they’ll still be influenced by the powerful forces that have shaped their careers. All the more reason progressives cannot sit this one out’, Richard Eskow, commonreams.org, Aug. 12, 2020

Okay: one outtake:

“As a candidate, Harris never seemed to be wedded to any particular policy proposal. Like Biden, she appears to lack an ideological core. While that can be seen as a character defect, it actually affords an opportunity. Biden and Harris may turn out to be malleable on policy in ways that the more ideologically neoliberal Bill and Hillary Clinton, for example, were not.”

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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Granma's picture

Because he thinks vote by mail will interfere with his re-election.

He has crossed a line for me with his attempt to destroy the post office. It isn’t logical and there have been a number of other things he has done that have enraged me, but this is the final straw. I don’t think Biden/Harris is an improvement. But I do think Trump in the White House is so dangerous, at this point, that I will do anything I can to get him out. And worry about the rest afterwards.

I have a close relative in a swing state I’ll talk to. I need to check to be sure which states are in play this time. If there are other swing states where I know people, I intend to work on them to vote to get rid of Trump.

Edit to fix typo

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Granma were actually to interfere with Trump's plans to destroy the Post Office. I warned people that this sort of thing was eventually going to come to a head a couple of months ago.

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"Faith in philosophy means the refusal to permit fear to stunt in any way one's capacity to think." -- Max Horkheimer

@Cassiodorus how Ds could interfere?

They are not able to get Mitch and the Rs in the senate to go along with even meaningful relief bill negotiations, let alone a bill that might include significant added funding for the USPS and other election relief to the states. And with Trump in the WH to veto any bill that looks like it could help the USPS and states election funds, Congress would need a 2/3 vote to override the veto. Heh.

Otherwise, calling on the USPS inspector general to investigate just seems like another dead end, though possibly better than yet another House Dem investigating committee, as the clock quickly ticks down.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@wokkamile The Democrats could sabotage Republican action at all levels. Instead they routinely pass defense appropriations, grant the President more powers routinely, and agree on procedural matters all the time.

The fact is, they don't want to.

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"Faith in philosophy means the refusal to permit fear to stunt in any way one's capacity to think." -- Max Horkheimer

wendy davis's picture

@Cassiodorus

ta, cass.

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@Cassiodorus ideas, just more whining.

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Granma's picture

@Cassiodorus today trying to figure out what is left of it, if anything besides the 2nd amendment. Even that doesn’t say what people think it does.

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wendy davis's picture

@Granma

comedic blogger:

'the Constitution has committed suicide'. (as in: not just on suicide watch'). there are many other example, such a lewis lapham's: 'Where the rule of law...my never have been', or close to that.

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@Granma

here. It's a bit amusing to think that getting Trump out will make any difference in the long run, except perhaps with respect to the pace at which whatever is left of our democratic republic is finally ripped to shreds.

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Granma's picture

@BayAreaLefty but I think getting him out might slow things down a little. And that more people will see that nobody in DC is going to help them. The only help and hope is going to come from what we the people do for ourselves.

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wendy davis's picture

@Granma

strong feelings on the matter. and while i'd needed to refresh my memory on the bush-era PAEA, the democrats could have created a law mooting it while they were in power under obomba. but no, they didn't, and under obomba, iirc, over 3700 post offices were closed, many with the gorgeous murals done in the WPA era. difi's husband, rchard blum, got the sole contract to profit on their sales. here's an explanation from the week's april 16, 2018 'How George Bush broke the Post Office'
(briefly)

Namely, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.

Passed by a Republican-led Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush, the PAEA gave the Postal Service new accounting and funding rules for its retiree pension and health benefits. Up until 2006, the USPS funded those obligations on a pay-as-you-go-basis, pulling out of its pension fund and adding to it as retirees' costs came in. But the PAEA required the Postal Service to calculate all of its likely pension costs over the next 75 years, and then sock away enough money between 2007 and 2016 to cover most of them.

so the sternly worded letter to trump's crony luis de joy from schumer and pelosi objecting (etc.) rings a bit hollow, if ya know what i mean. but yes, they've gotten Religion on the issue now. and as far as i can make out, it's a matter of how and when it will be fully privatized.

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TheOtherMaven's picture

@wendy davis

under obomba, iirc, over 3700 post offices were closed, many with the gorgeous murals done in the WPA era. difi's husband, rchard blum, got the sole contract to profit on their sales

Close the post offices, profit off their sales, and prevent the public from being exposed to "Red propaganda" in the form of said WPA murals.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

wendy davis's picture

@TheOtherMaven

indeed! back in the day, savethepostoffice.com would show the murals, and many of us would simply cry at the massive loss. and you're right: subversive art it was.

thanks for the reminder, maven.

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ballots is subject to fraud. That includes mail-in voting. It's as vulnerable as electronic voting, but in different ways.

Trump isn't any more dangerous than Biden to our country. He's just more open about it.

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@BayAreaLefty Did you mean election fraud -- wholesale theft or rigging of votes by one party -- or individual vote fraud by mail-in voters?

As for the counting, states have different methods. For the moment, this is what we have.

But in this moment, it seems more relevant and urgent to focus on the question of whether and to what extent mail-in ballots will actually get delivered properly and in a timely fashion.

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usefewersyllables's picture

@wokkamile

in that getting the ballot to the voter, and getting voted ballots back to be counted, are two completely different animals.

In Colorado, the ballots are printed all at once by the state, using automated methods to create individual voter bar codes and delivery addresses, and simultaneously print the correct county clerk return address on the return envelope. These are the delivery and return addresses that show through windows on what I'll call the outbound envelope to get the ballot to the voter. These ballots all go out in one huge batch 22 days before the election, so ratfucking by misdirecting or destroying those outbound ballots would arguably be scattershot between parties and counties. This would also allow the voter to notice that they didn't get a ballot, and correct the situation before the 7pm election day deadline. I think that this part is relatively robust.

The return process is potentially more fragile and problematic. I will not use the USPS to return my voted ballot, because I simply do not trust them. Once my ballot is marked and sealed back up in my return envelope, I return it to one of the many county lockboxes that are maintained at police stations and courthouses throughout every county in the state. Those are emptied approximately nightly during the 22-day pre-election period, and a voter can verify that their ballot was received for counting at the SoS web site as soon as it is logged in at the county Clerk and Recorder office (generally within 24 hours of dropoff). By law, the returned ballot envelopes are held unopened and uncounted until after 7pm on election night, where all ballot envelopes are opened and the ballots counted at the same time.

The problem with actually mailing a ballot back via USPS is that the voter would probably find out if their ballot was delayed or lost too late to fix it (if indeed they bothered to check). Once the ballot is in the county clerk's hands, anything can obviously happen to it- and if that's the case, all hell's out for noon, and the voter will never know. But a good portion of the process can be verified to have worked.

People in more rural areas that don't have ready access to a lockbox are arguably stuck with using the USPS to get their ballots back, and that's a real problem if this slowdown shit actually happens. But for voters in urban and suburban areas, you can usually get your ballot back to the election officials and verify that it got there by bypassing the USPS and using the lockbox mechanism. Saving the cost of a stamp is just a side benefit.

Relying on the USPS for getting ballots returned for counting by the deadline on election day is a huge potential problem. Figures that Trump would fuck with it. The best solution is to not wait until the last minute...

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

wendy davis's picture

@usefewersyllables

thank you. the ballot bar code IS a tracking number, as with packages, as i understand it, so a person could write that number down, etc., but it's unlikely many would know that or do it. i confess that this is a bit hazy to me, though, as in how (the bolded portion happens):

I return it to one of the many county lockboxes that are maintained at police stations and courthouses throughout every county in the state.
Those are emptied approximately nightly during the 22-day pre-election period, and a voter can verify that their ballot was received for counting at the SoS web site as soon as it is logged in at the county Clerk and Recorder office (generally within 24 hours of dropoff). By law, the returned ballot envelopes are held unopened and uncounted until after 7pm on election night, where all ballot envelopes are opened and the ballots counted at the same time.

we're in rural SW CO, so...it's the PO mail for us.

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usefewersyllables's picture

@wendy davis

but here's how: go to https://www.sos.state.co.us/voter/pages/pub/olvr/findVoterReg.xhtml, and enter your information (name, zip code, birthdate).

This will let you check your registration status. There is also a tab for ballot status: there, during the active voting process, it'll show if your ballot has been received for counting. It works very well, which is probably why nobody knows about it. Try it, and let me know how it works for you!

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

wendy davis's picture

@usefewersyllables

and my apologies for reading wrong. i'd thought you'd been linking the verification to this:

I return it to one of the many county lockboxes that are maintained at police stations and courthouses throughout every county in the state.

but then i hadn't known of their existence/s either. as Indies, we're sent two ballots, one R, one D. i've long since forgotten which allows one to vote Green, though, and maybe it's changed by now in any event. ; )

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usefewersyllables's picture

@wendy davis

that's just one step in the chain. When the lockboxes (or mail bags) get to the Clerk and Recorder's office in each county each night, all those bar codes on the envelopes get scanned, and the ones that have been seen are reported to the SoS as having voted. Then the sealed envelopes go into a pile to await 7pm on election night.

What you can see via that web site is the portal into the SoS database. They keep track of who has voted to keep the voter rolls active: miss a few elections and they'll stop sending ballots.

And the other good thing is that now that the primaries are over, they will only send one ballot with everybody on it. There wasn't a Green ballot for the primaries, in any case- the CO Greens did their "virtual primary" online ending on April 17, with no publicity at all, and we all missed it (only 47 people voted in it. Sigh.)...

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

wendy davis's picture

@usefewersyllables

i did report on the winner o the US green primary, but as i'm not a member of the Green Party, nor on the steering committee... ; )

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wendy davis's picture

@usefewersyllables

as to my ditziness: two ballots were only for primaries. sheesh. general: anyone who's on the ballot in the state.

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@usefewersyllables I've never had to use it, as until this year the certainty of my mail-in vote was never in question, buthere in CA there is an official way to track your mail-in ballot.

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usefewersyllables's picture

@wokkamile

Check early, check often, keep checking. Eternal vigilance and all that.

Not every state provides a mechanism like this: something that allows a voter to confirm their registration status and verify the status of their ballot. That is unfortunate. But for those states that do, please use it. Even if you are as tired, disgusted, and utterly burned out as I am, in some states it is just a few mouse clicks.

We’re the lucky ones. For those in the fuck-you states that don’t give you this mechanism: trying to make this happen might prove to be *even more important* than getting “progressives” on the ballot. Especially when some of these damned “progressives” seem to become republicans 10 minutes after inauguration...

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@BayAreaLefty

Anything short of a public counting of actual
ballots is subject to fraud. That includes mail-in voting.

Tulsi G has proposed legislation for a return to hand counted paper ballots
and that seems to be an obvious way to go - that is if the actual goal is to
have a transparent, non-fraudulent solution. The lack of enthusiasm among our 'leaders' for such a fix pretty strongly suggests that election integrity is not a high priority for them and maybe something they actively wish to avoid.

Oregon (where I vote) has had only mail-in voting for years now and while I don't know how much fraud may be occurring, I can't see it as any improvement on the previous system where there were polling stations in every precinct, in-person voting and hand counting of ballots at each polling station - results and ballots then sent to the county elections office who then reported results to the state level.

Canada and Taiwan hand count paper ballots and manage to produce accurate results within hours of polls closing - pretty pathetic that the US can't manage something similar.

One upside of mail-in voting would be that it at least avoids the no-paper trail "black box" voting systems that are scarily manipulable by anyone with administrator status.

Lots of good info at http://blackboxvoting.org/ - check especially their "Fractions Magic" analysis of widely employed electronic voting software...

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you."

from "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon

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wendy davis's picture

@Blue Republic

thanks. one title: 'Audits or Fraudits'. i've long thought/believed (due to anecdotal evidence) that the one sure way to keep the duopoly in tact would be to jimmy the diebolds so that third party votes were 'miscounted', let's say.

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What the Obama (and Biden) administration tried to do against the Post Office has conveniently gone down the memory hole for too many people, a very busy portal when it comes to his Presidency.

(all emphasis mine)
(2011)"Our customer's habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said this summer.

Currently the post office has 31,000 outlets, including local offices, branches and stations. That's down from 38,000 a decade ago. In recent years, however, as first-class mail has moved to the Internet due to online bill pay and other advancements, and as mail advertising has moved to the Internet, the post office has seen a rapid decline in its business.

Last year the post office lost $8 billion. This year the agency will lose more than $9 billion.

The cuts currently being debated are the beginning of the end, and they will start in rural areas where more locations don't have the required business volume for sustainability.

Donahoe suggests communities losing post offices might get smaller, authorized stations, or licensed local vendors to provide traditional postal services. In other words, the post office is increasingly privatizing its business, brokering out services of its retail centers. That strategy has been under way for years now, successfully in many locations. Now, it is the path the post office takes to serving communities with physical locations.
https://www.ibtimes.com/us-postal-service-may-be-going-going-gone-end-ye...

"...A majority of Americans support ending Saturday mail, according to national polls conducted in recent years, and President Obama has proposed halting deliveries as part of his budget-cutting proposals. Though the Postal Service is a quasi-governmental, self-funding entity, its worker compensation and retirement plans are tied to the federal budget.

Lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully for years to enact a significant overhaul of the Postal Service, hoping to reshape the agency as a leaner organization that delivers mail less frequently and operates fewer post offices across the country.

The Senate last year passed a bipartisan measure that would have permitted an end to Saturday mail delivery only after USPS conducted two years of feasibility studies."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/federal-eye/wp/2013/02/06/u-s-postal...

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wendy davis's picture

@aliasalias

links indicating that it's another duopoly project to Euthanize the post office...slowly but surely.

our small rural PO has cut saturday hours to 9 a.m. to noon, but those hours sure help us out. there is one woman behind the counter, over-worked and underpaid, i'm sure. no temps allowed by The Rules, it seems. and mr. wd reports that with social distancing, the lines outside can get wicked-long.

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wendy davis's picture

of my more recent diaries on the PO: this is a two-fer, as the earlier one is linked at the top as well.

'More Hellacious News for the PO & Voting by Mail', august 4, 2020

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maybe Trump is actually afraid that the Democrats will steal the election. After all, he knows the Democrats, they stole the last two primaries, and they are fronted by Hillary, Obama, and Biden. The fear would be legitimate.
Yes, Kathleen Harris, I know, but that was twenty years ago and a crook surrounded by enemies is the person most likely to be paranoid.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

wendy davis's picture

@doh1304

maya rudolph duz kamala harris:

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wendy davis's picture

@doh1304

gasteyer as harris toot instead of responding to your surmise, but i think he's deathly afraid that he'll lose if universal vote my mail gets sorted out.

one comedic note: the men homepage is reporting that he's ordered an absentee ballot.

one not so funny news: congress is on summer break, both senate and house will return bout mid-september. #NoNewCoronaDeal. 'why bother when we can pretend we're deadlocked?'

OTOH, it's being widely reported that google-owned youtube will remove any videos that are based on 'hacked' information that might affect the election outcome. that must be aimed at someone or other. one such report.

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that would help one part of the Trump evolving election theft crime, and I'm not sure in what states this could be done as they would have to be D-controlled in the lege and gov's office, is to enact legislation that would a) allow any ballot postmarked by the close of Election Day to be counted and b) allow election officials to begin counting mailed votes as received and not wait until Election Day or even days after as in some places like perhaps NY.

Some states require ballots to be received by Election Day, which may be a major problem given Trump-forced USPS cutbacks, and on b) it's just unacceptable to have ballots sitting around for days, weeks even, for no good reason. Counting as received will allow usually for reporting substantial election results on election night. States that are politically positioned to do so need to immediately enact such reform bills, for the most part bc of the below event.

Trump is likely to declare himself the winner on Election Night if he shows a lead with mainly in-person votes counted but few mail-ins, while also claiming that any votes reported after the close of ED are just Ds trying to steal the election. I think this is guaranteed to happen. And Fox will report it that way. If too many states continue to take their sweet time counting mail in votes -- which likely (per recent poll) will heavily favor Biden/Ds -- they will enable Trump's false perception of a victory.

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wendy davis's picture

@wokkamile

'postmarked by' should be the standard. and while i take your meaning as to 'begin to count as received' (as opposed to 'after polls close), i suppose you mean 'and report the results to the SoS in batches?

with e-voting, anchors used to declare the Winnah! state by state ('with 90% of the vote in we call the race for 'Idi Amin'/'Nancy Drew', but that there are four time zones meant that folks on the Left Coast might give up and not vote...

tough problem, but really so what if Fox New declares the Trumpeter the Winnah! pelosi says she'll 'fumigate him out of the white house'. ; )

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usefewersyllables's picture

@wokkamile

is that returned ballots that are postmarked on election day may take weeks to finally arrive (or months, as in the case of a Christmas card I saw show up in about June). It'll be worse with the slowdown. This has the effect of delaying election results indefinitely just in case more ballots trickle in, which I suspect is not what we should want to do.

It's not as if people are unaware of exactly what day Election Day is: it is typically published years ahead, and advertised repeatedly until everyone is sick of hearing about it. It is a solid deadline. That's why I like the way CO does it, with the law stating that all ballots must be in the hands of the election officials by 7pm on election day, or they will not be counted. Simple, concise, understandable, and to the point. CO mails the ballots out 22 days in advance, and if yours hasn't arrived by election day, you can still go to a voter services station and vote in person. If your mail ballot is still laying on your kitchen table on election day, you can still fill it out and drop it at a lockbox- they are at police stations, courthouses, county DMV offices, locations like that. If, on the other hand, you choose to drop it in the US Mail on election day, your ballot will very likely miss out on being counted: so know that in advance, and simply don't do it.

Ballots should be available the better part of a month before election day, and people should be educated and should know to GET THEM IN by 7pm on that day. Mailing them late, or not paying attention until too late, should be treated he same way as the people who show up to vote in person the day after: a day late and a dollar short. This idea of letting elections go on indefinitely results in the kind of shenanigans we saw on Super Tuesday in CA and CO. There is no reason to put up with that, IMNSHO.

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

wendy davis's picture

@usefewersyllables

in 'postmarked by'. esp. IF the ballots are mailed to voters a month before nov. 3.

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@usefewersyllables and cons to any deadline. Problem with the current CO one, m/b postmarked by end of Election Day, esp in the current massive cutback of USPS by the Trump appointee, is that ballots sent in well ahead of time may get left on the floor for days and then miss that deadline, if they are ever picked up, sorted and delivered. Yesterday the USPS officially notified 46 states that there may be problems with the PS handling all the mail in ballots this year. Good to know.

Yes, with my proposal some % of mail ins will be counted days/weeks later, but with the policy of counting and reporting as received, this should pose less of a problem in most states and most times there should be a result to announce in all but the most tightly contested races. But I think the downside of the current received-by CO strict policy is greater than the one that would occur with a more liberal one of postmarked by ED.

In any case, regardless of the deadline, there is a growing concern that the USPS will be so underfunded and underequipped in re manpower and material that the whole system will be so undermined that millions of ballots will be disqualified as late. Yes, voters need to be aware, most probably will, but we know many will not or will be slow to return ballots (procrastination, and the usual excuses) and so millions will be disenfranchised.

Btw, re drop boxes: Trump's USPS chief DeSomething is arranging to remove USPS boxes from a number of places throughout the land. Part of that new USPS efficiency. Some counties, as with mine, offer their own non-USPS ballot drop boxes, so even with the ability to track a returned ballot via the internet, I will be returning my ballot at the close by drop box, avoiding headaches and worries about the USPS. Notice however that the Trump campaign and RNC are legally challenging the state's use of such boxes in PN. All that voter fraud with these boxes. As Trump said, Yeah kids get in there and grab it and go to the end of the block and put their signatures on it.

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