Universal postal voting would make the United States “a laughing stock,” President Donald Trump has said, as he continues his bitter opposition to postal voting.
It comes after the US Postal Service (USPS) warned that millions of postal votes may not arrive in time to be counted in the November election.
A record number of people are expected to vote by mail due to the pandemic.
Critics blamed the new USPS chief – a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump – for slowing deliveries.
Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, accused Mr. Trump of attacking postal voting and the USPS in an attempt to “undermine the election.”
The president has repeatedly said that the postal ballots will lead to electoral fraud and give Democratic rival Joe Biden a boost.
However, experts say the postal voting system, which Mr. Trump himself uses, is immune to tampering.
President Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, plans to recall Congress early to address the changes introduced to the USPS and the potential impact on the Nov. 3 election, according to the Reuters news agency.
Only a handful of states have so far declared that they will conduct universal postal voting, meaning voters will automatically receive a postal ballot before the election – and a number of them do ‘did before the pandemic.
Elsewhere, voters will still have to apply to vote by mail.
Qu’a dit Trump?
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday evening, the president said he had no problem with absentee voting, which he uses himself.
But he added: “The universal postal vote will be catastrophic, it will make our country the laughing stock of the world.”
“The problem with postal voting, number one, is that you will never know when the elections are over,” he continued.
He added that the outcome of the November vote might not be known “for months or years, because these ballots are going to be lost, they are going to disappear.”
He also blamed Democrats for not reaching an agreement on funding for the USPS.
He had previously told Fox News that he was blocking additional funding for the financially troubled agency because he opposed voting by mail.
“Now they need this money to run the post office so that it can receive all those millions and millions of ballots,” he said. “Now if we don’t do a deal, it means they don’t get the money. This means that they can’t have universal postal voting, they just can’t have it. “
What is the context?
The USPS, which has been in financial trouble for a long time and carries approximately $ 160 billion (£ 122 billion) in debt, sent letters to U.S. states in July warning them that it could not not guarantee that all postal votes would arrive in time to be counted.
At least 15 states received a letter, according to NBC News.
Critics say changes made by new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy – a major Republican donor – like cracking down on overtime and stopping late delivery trips have led to increased wait times for mail.
But Mr. Trump told Fox News that he was blocking additional funding for the financially troubled agency because he opposes mail voting.
“Now they need this money to run the post office so that it can receive all those millions and millions of ballots,” he said.
“Now if we don’t do a deal, it means they don’t get the money. This means that they can’t have universal postal voting, they just can’t have it. “
What was the reaction?
Democrats have sharply criticized the president’s stance toward the USPS, with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer accusing Mr. Trump of “sabotage tactics.”
Joe Biden, meanwhile, sought to reassure voters by tweeting Friday: “Postal voting is safe and secure. And don’t take my word for it: believe the president, who just requested his Florida Primary mail-in ballot on Tuesday. ”
Singer Taylor Swift also weighed in on the debate, accusing the president of choosing to “blatantly cheat”.
“Ask for a ballot early. Vote early, ”she said in a tweet that received hundreds of thousands of likes.