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EDITORIAL: Stop Trump’s assault on Constitution

Patrick DeLany
York Dispatch
FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo vote-by-mail ballots are shown in U.S. Postal service sorting trays the King County Elections headquarters in Renton, Wash., south of Seattle. The U.S. Postal Service has sent letters to 46 states and the District of Columbia, warning it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted, The Washington Post reported Friday, Aug. 14. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Is anyone surprised a president who has lied tens of thousands of times since taking office and sought to enlist foreign cooperation for his political ends would attempt to steal an election?

Because make no mistake, that’s exactly what President Donald Trump is preparing to do with intense and unprecedented efforts to disrupt the operations of the U.S. Postal Service ahead of this November’s vote.

And everyone on Capitol Hill, in a governor’s mansion, in an elections capacity — indeed every right-thinking American — ought to be screaming bloody murder about it.

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It’s bad enough the president continually disparages mail-in voting during the worst public-health crisis in a century. But the brazen and ham-handed efforts to literally cart away mail-sorting machinery and collections boxes is the stuff of two-bit dictators.

The president doesn’t care. He came right out and admitted last week his reelection is more important to him than your ability to vote safely and, by extension, not only your right to a free election but your very health and safety.

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“They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump told Fox Business in dismissing the inclusion of federal aid to the USPS in any coronavirus relief bills. “If they don’t get (the funding), that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.”

He’s not just starving the postal service financially. The president’s newly hand-picked postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a Republican super-donor whose postal experience doesn’t extend much beyond knowing which part of an envelope to lick, has been hacking away at operations since taking over in June: restricting processing, changing delivery rules, and generally doing everything in his power to slow and hinder mail delivery.

The chaos led the postal service last week to send detailed warnings to 46 states, including Pennsylvania, that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast before November’s election will arrive in time to be counted.

As with their response to the coronavirus, state leaders are doing their best to work around a federal government that is not only unhelpful, but downright obstructive. Gov. Tom Wolf and elections officials are petitioning the courts to extend the deadline so that ballots postmarked on Election Day, Nov. 3, are counted if they are received up to three days after that date. And many counties, including York County, plan to distribute drop boxes to make mail-in submissions easier. Incredibly, Trump and the Republican Party are suing to block this effort.

Again, this is nothing less than an all-out assault on voting rights — one that endangers the public health.

Democrats and voting-rights advocates are assailing what some call “an assault on the Constitution,” but those in a position assert real pressure — Senate Republicans like Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey — are characteristically silent. They must insist that additional funding to the USPS be part of any new relief bill (once they mosey back to Washington from the weeks-long vacation they’re currently enjoying).

Meantime, it’s up to states and individual voters to perform end runs around this brazen effort at voter suppression.

Pennsylvania’s absence of early voting removes one effective strategy, but registered voters can still apply for absentee and mail-in ballots online — the deadline is Oct. 27 but, as should be clear, the earlier the better. And, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reminds us, “under a new law, (voters) will have the option of requesting and submitting an absentee ballot during one in-person visit to county elections offices, starting more than a month and a half before an election day.”

Someday, America may again have a president who respects free and fair elections and puts the health of the public ahead of his own personal interests. But not if voters don’t work around the current postal roadblocks and make their voices heard.