Trump's Post Office meddling is plainly illegal
On Thursday, President Trump flatly admitted he opposes aid to the Post Office because he wants to prevent mail-in voting. "They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots," he said on Fox News. "But if they don't get those two items that means you can't have universal mail-in voting because you they're not equipped to have it."
There we have it, folks: Trump now openly admits he is sandbagging the Post Office to prevent Americans from voting by mail. Obstructing the ability to vote of the American people is a crime at the federal level and in every state. Not for the first time, the president has confessed to criminal acts on television.
Now, Trump defenders will no doubt claim that the president is just trying to prevent voter fraud. This is a ridiculous argument for three reasons.
First, the president does not get to prevent certain kinds of voting just because he alleges there is fraud happening. Election administration is largely governed at the state level, and several states — like Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Utah — have had universal mail-in voting as the foundation of their systems for years (where it has worked just fine). Trump's throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of the Post Office is a likely unconstitutional infringement of state authority to run their own elections, in addition to being directly criminal (see below).
Second, Trump is lying. We know he's lying because countless studies have found mail-in voter fraud to be virtually nonexistent compared to the number of ballots cast, because it doesn't even make sense as a way to commit election theft, and most of all because Trump himself has voted through the mail repeatedly — in 2017 and 2018 in New York, and just this week for the primary election in Florida. His argument is a scam and obviously so.
Third, we can also see what the game is by how new postmaster general Louis DeJoy, who met with Trump last week and is undeniably a partisan lackey, is slashing the Post Office's baseline capacity. As David Dayen argues at The American Prospect, even 100 percent mail-in voting would barely burden the agency at all, given that it delivers 182 million pieces of mail every day (or used to, anyway), and most ballots have a very short transit route — from county election offices to homes and back again. That is why DeJoy is ending postal carrier overtime, destroying automated letter-sorting machines that cost millions of dollars, and pulling up hundreds of outdoor mailboxes. Voting by mail is so trivial for the USPS that it is necessary to seriously damage the agency to render it incapable of carrying it out. Sure enough, the agency has already warned that mail-in ballots could fail to be delivered in time in nearly every state.
DeJoy is also sticking up states for an additional 35 cents on every ballot envelope to achieve the same effect from the other direction. That might net the agency $30 million on the outside — a pittance for an agency with $71 billion in revenue last year, but a significant burden on states that are already broke.
The point of hamstringing the Post Office is to prevent as many people from voting by mail as possible, because 72 percent of Democrats say they are likely to vote by mail, as compared to 22 percent of Republicans. Trump and his stooge are using their federal power to forcibly disenfranchise American citizens. We have it straight from the horse's mouth.
Let's compare that behavior to 18 U.S. Code § 594, which states: "Whoever intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose" in a federal election faces fines and up to a year in prison. (By the way, someone who "knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail" also faces fines and up to six months in prison.)
States also all have laws against stealing elections, it turns out. In Michigan, for instance, it is a felony to "attempt, by means of bribery, menace, or other corrupt means or device, either directly or indirectly, to influence an elector in giving his or her vote, or to deter the elector from, or interrupt the elector in giving his or her vote at any election held in this state." Wisconsin law states: "No person may personally or through an agent make use of or threaten to make use of force, violence, or restraint in order to induce or compel any person to vote or refrain from voting at an election." In South Carolina, someone "who by force, intimidation, deception, fraud, bribery, or undue influence obtains, procures, or controls the vote of any voter to be cast for any candidate or measure other than as intended or desired by such voter" is also guilty of a felony. In California, every person who "threatens to make use of any force, violence, or tactic of coercion or intimidation, to induce or compel any other person to vote or refrain from voting at any election," is guilty of a felony as well. In Texas, someone who "makes any effort … to influence the independent exercise of the vote of another in the presence of the ballot or during the voting process" is guilty of election fraud, a misdemeanor.
If I submit my ballot by mail, as is legal in every state under varying conditions, only for it to end up stranded in some mail sorting facility and never counted thanks to Trump's deliberate harming of the Post Office, I will have been forcibly prevented from voting. At bottom it is no different from snatching my ballot out of my hands and setting it on fire.
A recent Department of Justice book on election crime reads: "In the United States, as in other democratic societies, it is through the ballot box that the will of the people is translated into government that serves rather than oppresses." Donald Trump and the Republican Party, which stands behind him in near-total lockstep, do not believe in such basic values of a democratic republic, as also set out in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. They are increasingly convinced they cannot win through fair means, and so they will try to win by flagrantly illegal vote suppression, all while hysterically lying about their opponents doing the same thing to muddy the media waters.
If Trump is indeed defeated, he must answer for this in a court of law.