Election and Postal Service officials say possible budget cuts are not the only issues for mail-in voting
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - President Donald Trump has said that he wants to cut federal funding to the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Postmaster General said any such changes would not happen until after the election in November, but election officials said the possible cuts are not the only reason they have their hands full this year.
"With it being more mailed, it's costing the county more for postage, for paper, for employees to come in," said St. Joseph County Circuit Court Clerk Rita Glenn. "When you're not used to having 32,000, as we did in the spring, ballots that needed to go out, we had to bring more people in. With the pandemic going on right now, it's another issue. So, it's just a vicious cycle."
Glenn said the Pandemic is causing more people to vote by mail which is causing more mail to be circulated through the USPS. She said any budget cuts would make an already difficult situation worse.
"(There are) millions of pieces of mail going through the US Postal Service on a daily basis," Glenn said. "They're already working at a lower capacity of employees. When you throw an election in it with a pandemic, you're tripling or even quadrupling the amount of mail that they are going to have to deal with on a daily basis."
Postal workers like retired 30-year letter carrier Tony Flora, said the USPS has been through something like this before.
"In 2008 and 2009 with the big economic crash, that had a big impact on the Postal Service and on our working life," Flora said. "We could see mail disappearing by the day when that big crash occurred, but we got through that."
Flora said there is one big difference between that hard time and today's.
"The pandemic," Flora said. "Just like with so many other businesses, the Postal Service saw an unbelievable drop in mail volume throughout the beginning part of this year."
Flora said the pandemic has revealed something about USPS workers.
"We talk about people who are essential workers," said Flora. "Well, I guess it turned out postal workers are essential workers, too. The ones who work inside, the ones who work outside moving mail around the country. All of the sudden, we began to realize how essential they are to how our country operates, and we definitely need a well-functioning post office."
Flora also said the community can help the USPS get through this difficult time.
"I think it's important that in this pandemic/crisis that we're in that we support the institution of the postal service because it's not on the federal budget. It needs the extra funds to get through this pandemic much like any other business," Flora said.
St. Joseph County Circuit Court Clerk Rita Glenn said if you want to vote by mail for this election, it is important to contact your local election offices and get their recommendation on how to proceed because Glenn said "every community is different."