Virginia must fight Trump’s corrupt motives for restricting mail ballots

August 21, 2020 12:01 am

President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks and answers questions from members of the press Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, during a press conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Let’s start with his unmitigated gall, his unparalleled obtuseness.

Most national leaders, having so thoroughly botched a health emergency that’s killed more than 170,000 Americans and sickened millions of others, would protect citizens trying to vote in a national election. They would recognize that, as president of the United States, they shouldn’t force Americans to choose between whether to cast ballots — or risk their very lives at polling places because of the way COVID-19 is spread.

They’d feel compelled to do so, especially since there’s no vaccine to halt the continuing pandemic.

Donald Trump is unlike most chief executives. He couldn’t care less about safeguarding democracy and assisting voters. He only wants to win, no matter the cost to anyone else.

We’ve seen this conduct repeatedly over the past 3½ years. The narcissism; the tens of thousands of lies and misleading claims; and the corrupt reasoning always win out.

His self-interest is grotesquely transparent. He’s waged war on absentee and mail-in voting (the terms are often used interchangeably), especially since he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Never mind that Trump won the Electoral College. He even set up a sham “election integrity” panel that was roundly criticized and finally disbanded.

The Tweeter-in-Chief has also linked higher turnout to Republicans losing elections. Maybe the GOP, instead of trying to suppress voting, should offer a better platform to an increasingly diverse nation.

Just a thought.

Trump now contends that absentee voting will be riddled with fraud in the Nov. 3 election, giving his supporters a reason to revolt should he lose. The president has pulled such baseless accusations from somewhere near his rectum.

His new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, had implemented changes blamed for slowing down the mail. Amid wide-scale criticism, DeJoy this week reversed course, as The Virginia Mercury reported:

DeJoy said he will not change overtime rules, retail hours at local post offices, or the location of mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes, nor will he close any existing mail processing facilities.

He also said the agency will use ‘standby’ resources as of Oct. 1 to meet a possible surge in mail due to the elections.

You can be sure watchdog groups and Democrats will monitor whether DeJoy lives up to his word. After all, he’s a Trump ally, financial contributor to his campaign, and former Republican National Convention finance chairman. DeJoy knows all about the president’s constant complaints regarding mail ballots.

On Saturday, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives will consider a measure providing $25 billion in postal funding. If passed, it’s debatable whether it will get through the Republican-controlled Senate.

The Washington Post has reported more than a dozen administration officials — including the president — have voted by mail in the past. It’s a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do.”

Especially for the hoi polloi.

This campaign against absentee voting has forced governors, including Ralph Northam in Virginia, to consider alternatives to help their citizens. Northam has proposed setting up absentee ballot drop boxes that would make it easier for voters to turn in ballots without relying on the Postal Service. Mailed absentee ballots are scheduled to start going out on Sept. 18.

The guv also proposed using $2 million from the state budget to pay for return postage on all absentee ballots. Earlier, the state passed legislation allowing voters to cast absentee ballots without giving an excuse.

Meanwhile, 21 states, including Virginia, have signed on to lawsuits against the Postal Service for the way it changed operations. They said the modifications would hinder the way state officials conduct elections.

“The Trump Administration’s illegal, hasty changes to the U.S. Postal Service are nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on our democracy and blatant voter suppression,” Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement.

Virginians – indeed, all Americans – must fight this public onslaught against voting. Trump’s campaign of lies and disinformation, amid a pandemic that’s already killed more than 2,400 Virginians, is reprehensible.

Shame on him. Shame on his assault on voting.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Roger Chesley
Roger Chesley

Longtime columnist and editorial writer Roger Chesley worked at the (Newport News) Daily Press and The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot from 1997 through 2018. He previously worked at newspapers in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Detroit. Reach him at [email protected]