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The steady arrival of masked patrons at the Oakland Park post office seemed to underline the points made by Joyce Beatty and others as they stood outside the entrance.
The U.S. Postal Service, they said, is a lifeline — a lifeline for the delivery of life-sustaining medications, correspondence from loved ones and perhaps a check to fix a car so a person in need can get to work.
But mail service also is a lifeline connecting people to their democracy through their right to vote, said the congresswoman and other Columbus Democrats.
They gathered at the post office Tuesday to denounce what they portrayed as deliberate moves by the administration of Republican President Donald Trump to suppress voting by mail ahead of the Nov. 3 election by slowing the machinery of the postal service.
“These are baseless and senseless attacks on the postal service,” Beatty said at the news conference dubbed #DontMessWithUSPS. “We know they are doing this to have an effect on this election.”
She vowed to return to Washington D.C. to fight for funding for the U.S. Postal Service to help ensure it can promptly handle mail involving absentee requests and mail ballots in the weeks before the fall election.
“They cannot delay our democracy,” Beatty said. “This is about delaying your vote.”
Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady followed up to call Trump’s defense of postal service changes as “lying and cheating.”
“It’s a manufactured crisis trying to foster doubt on election results” since Trump fears losing and wants to stay in power, O’Grady said.ml
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin agreed: “We know what this about: voter suppression.”
State Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus, invoked the postal service motto about natural calamities — rain, snow and such — never halting the mail.
But he cited “a human calamity who is occupying the White House.” And, Leland said, “That human is trying to do what natural calamities could not do.”
State Sen. Hearcel Craig, D-Columbus, and Urbancrest Mayor Joseph Barnes added their support to Democrat attempts to to ensure orderly fall delivery of ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats claim Trump is undermining the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the Nov. 3 election in a bid to bolster his chances of re-election by suppressing mail ballots more often cast by Democrats.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said at his coronavirus briefing Tuesday that the postal service needs to maintain the same level of service it has in years past to ensure timely returned ballots are counted in the fall election.
The postal service warned Ohio and other states that absentee ballot requests and returned mail-in ballots submitted too close to the election may not be delivered in time to meet deadlines and be counted.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
With the COVID-19 pandemic expecting to cause many to shy away from in-person voting, a record number of mail ballots are expected to be submitted this fall, including in Ohio.
Despite no evidence, Trump claims mail balloting is rife with fraud, saying Monday that the only way he can lose this fall is if the election is “rigged,” which might require another election. A struggle over post office funding is mounting in Congress.
While declining comment on the number of mail boxes and mail-sorting equipment removed in central Ohio, the postal service says it has halted the removal of mail boxes until after the Nov. 3 election.
Most of Beatty’s Republican colleagues in Congress, in a joint letter, are asking the postal service to “implement procedures, in coordination with the state of Ohio, to ensure the timely and accurate delivery of election-related materials prior to the November elections.”
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman joined U.S. Reps. Steve Stivers of Columbus and Troy Balderson of Zanesville in signing the letter.
Democrats led by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown are urging Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, meanwhile, to reconsider his decision permitting only one absentee ballot drop box in each county.