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They fight to strengthen the Postal Service and the vote by mail in the presidential elections of 2020

With just over two months before Presidential Election Day in the United States, Chicago voters, activists and elected officials are sounding the alarm about possible mail delays and vote integrity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A few days ago, the Postal Service, while reducing overtime for its staff and facing late mail deliveries, began warning states it might not have the ability to ensure that all vote-by-mail ballots are received in time to be counted.

Chicago voters say the mail delays could be detrimental for those who decide not to vote in person because they want to prevent the spread of covid-19 during the presidential elections on November 3.

Democrats, some Republicans and civil rights organizations have accused the CEO of the United States Post Office, Louis DeJoy, a donor to President Donald Trump’s campaign, of making changes to the Postal Service that could hinder voting by mail and impact the election results.

These are changes that include cutting overtime for your employees and limiting post office hours of service, which is causing massive delays in deliveries. For voters, elected officials and local activists, these changes would be an attack on democracy and jeopardizing the right to vote by mail.

However, DeJoy said the Postal Service is ready to handle any volume of election mail despite the pandemic.

Many citizens are expected to choose to vote by mail to avoid the risk of contagion from Covid-19, so Chicago voters urge their legislators to act to protect the United States Postal Service.

For her part, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said recent changes by President Donald Trump’s administration to postal operations are designed to discourage voting by mail.

A post office worker delivers mail in the Las Empacadoras neighborhood of southwest Chicago. (Belhú Sanabria / La Raza)

‘A lot of people depend on the Postal Service’

In dozens of cities in the United States, including Chicago, there were demonstrations on the national day of action called ‘Save the Post Office’, last Saturday, August 22.

A large group of protesters stood outside a post office in the Pilsen neighborhood of southwest Chicago. They protested the proposed changes in the United States Postal Service, which they say seek to repress the vote in the next elections.

For Centro sin Fronteras pastor and activist Emma Lozano, the downsizing and closing mail sorting machines are attempts to sabotage the presidential elections.

Lozano also urged voters to exercise the right to vote in the November general elections.

“What we do not want is for people to think that it is not important to vote, yes we are going to vote, yes we are going to take care of our elderly and all those who are vulnerable in this pandemic. We are going to do everything possible so that our people can vote in a safe and healthy way, ”Lozano said in an interview with La Raza.

Byron Sigcho, a councilman for District 25, said they are protesting in defense of democracy and accused President Trump of trying to sabotage the elections. “A lot of people depend on the post office to send letters, get their medicine. It is terrible what is happening in this country, at this moment ”.

Miguel Pérez Jr. is an Army veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He told La Raza that like thousands of veterans he receives his medicines by mail. “Lately I have had problems with my medicine because it does not arrive on time.”

Pérez Jr. was a legal resident but was deported to Mexico after being released from prison for a drug-related conviction. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker granted Pérez Jr. a clemency so he was able to return to Chicago to fight his immigration case. In October of last year, he became a US citizen and is ready to vote in the next elections.

“This will be the first time I have voted for a presidential election. I have never paid so much attention to elections as today and for me it is very important because with my vote I will be representing thousands of veterans and thousands of people who cannot vote, because my vote counts, ”Pérez Jr. told La Race.

That same day of national action, the United States House of Representatives approved a $ 25 billion bill to strengthen the United States Postal Service before the elections on November 3.

That law, if enacted, would prohibit the Postal Service from implementing or approving any changes in current operations that impede fast, reliable, and efficient service.

The bill will go to a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, so its fate is uncertain, and President Donald Trump said he will veto that measure if it reaches his desk.

The Senate resumes its sessions next September.


Editorial coverage of La Raza is made possible in part by the Chicago Community Trust, the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism / Facebook Journalism Project, and the Google News Initiative. We appreciate your support of our journalistic work.