Here in North Carolina, we’ve had as good a look at voter suppression efforts as any state in the nation. From reducing voting hours to limiting polling locations to restricting access through voter ID programs to extreme gerrymandering, we have watched the GOP attempt to limit access to the polls for groups of people likely to vote against them. The current assault on the post office has all the hallmarks of a Republican voter suppression campaign.

Republicans claim they are trying to “fix” a dysfunctional and failing system at the post office. For the GOP, every government-run agency is failing and the answer is always the same—cut it. In North Carolina, they talked about our failing public schools and cut per pupil spending to one of the lowest rates in the country. Our university was failing so they made major cuts to it, too. As for our electoral system, they streamlined it by reducing access to the polls. They suddenly found voter fraud to be a major threat to our democracy and they fought it by making voting more difficult. Coincidentally, almost everywhere they reduced early voting sites or combined precincts were areas where Democrats did well in elections. Their voter ID program denied student IDs, government-issued identification for young people.

Now, in the middle of a pandemic, when people are more dependent on the post office for everything from shopping to medications to voting, the Trump administration has instituted a re-organization of the post office that includes significantly reducing its capacity. Trump essentially admitted that he wants to prevent mail-in voting. He’s been falsely claiming that mail-in voting is a recipe for massive voter fraud and opposes money to help the post office process the increased mail load.

Republicans, of course, deny the re-organization has anything to do with mail-in voting. They claim they’re just trying to fix another inefficient government bureaucracy. Of course their timing couldn’t be worse or more suspect. And of course, they are removing machines where Democrats do well. In North Carolina, they removed mail sorting machines from Fayetteville and Charlotte, two Democratic strongholds.

Politically, attacking the post office in the run up to an election that will see increased mail-in voting is stupid. Even under the best of circumstances, a major reorganization is going to have glitches and problems. Veterans, for instance, depend on the post office for their drugs. The VA says that 80% of their prescriptions are sent by mail. At a time when going to the pharmacy could literally be life threatening to people with pre-existing conditions, denying needed drugs to those who served is the same thing as limiting access to health care.

The GOP should continue their shenanigans at their own political peril. In North Carolina, we know what they are trying to do. Making veterans and elderly people collateral damage in their war on democracy is bad political strategy.


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