Like many of my constituents in CT-05, I was deeply concerned when I learned the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) warned it could not guarantee all mail-in ballots would arrive in time to be counted for the November election. In a letter to 46 states, including Connecticut, the Postal Service maintains that even if mailed by state deadlines, ballots may not be delivered on time, raising the possibility that millions of voters could be disenfranchised.
I am even more concerned, however, about the continued sustainability of this national agency.
Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution authorizes Congress to establish post offices and post roads. Our Postal Service is commissioned with the task to provide affordable mail and package delivery services to every zip code in the United States, no matter how remote or wide-ranging.
The Postal Service is America’s oldest civilian institution and one of the most enduring arms of our democracy. The USPS provides vulnerable populations like veterans and seniors with much needed medication; it delivers social security checks to the retired; it distributes goods to small businesses; and it serves as a vital role of connection in our rural communities where there can be little access to broadband and internet. Operational changes like cuts to overtime, reduction of delivery trips, and the removal of mail sorting devices have slowed deliveries and created widespread concern about the fidelity of USPS to carry out its mission. Calls for early retirement and hiring freezes at USPS have also impacted the nearly 100,000 military members and veterans employed by this institution.
Amid the current health crisis, the postal service continues to take on the critical role of delivering essential goods and services. This year, that responsibility includes responses to the 2020 Census and the delivery of election mail. It is important that all citizens have the assurance when they vote and respond by mail, that they will be counted.
No one should have to choose between their health and their ability to vote. Fortunately, several states have updated absentee ballot systems so that American voters in every community can safely participate in the electoral process.
While I am pleased to read Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s statement confirming the U.S. Postal Service is ready, willing, and able to deliver election mail for millions of voters across the country, we must ensure the USPS has the funding and structural support necessary to deliver ballots safely and securely.
As a Member of Congress, I wholeheartedly support increased funding for the Postal Service. The Heroes Act, which the House passed in May, provides $25 billion in additional funding for USPS. The Senate must move this legislation forward. In addition, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 8015, the Delivering for America Act, a bill to maintain prompt and reliable postal service during the COVID-19 health emergency. I have also joined Speaker Pelosi and 192 House colleagues in calling for the reversal of policies that have worsened the crisis facing USPS. As the carrier delivering packages to the last mile where it is not profitable for private companies to do so, the post office is vital in rural areas of my district.
As the Postal Service and U.S. election infrastructure face unprecedented circumstances, it is important that you request your ballot as soon as possible and familiarize yourself with the election guidelines in our state. Please continue to hold your elected officials, including myself, accountable to fully fund our post office and help ensure the survival of this vital American institution.