Why America needs moratorium on mail until after this election is done

Why America needs moratorium on mail until after this election is done
© Getty Images

Republicans know their prospects decline as turnout rises for elections. The reason is that the party base of older white voters are more likely to take part in low turnout elections than the Democratic base of minorities and young people. In 1980, political strategist Paul Weyrich, a founder of the modern conservative movement, criticized the “goo goo” effects with good governance. “They want everybody to vote. I do not want everybody to vote,” he said. “As a matter of fact, our leverage with the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

More recently, Republicans have said restrictions on voting such as photo identification laws helps the party in diminishing the opposition voting. In 2012, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai declared that voter identification, “which is going to allow Governor Mitt Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania” in the election, would be done.

In 2013, while talking about the conservative advantage from low turnout, Scott Tranter of the political consulting firm Optimus said, “A lot of us are campaign professionals and we want to do everything we can to help our sides. Sometimes we think that means voter identification, sometimes we think that means longer lines, or whatever it may be.”


Ken Emanuelson, a Tea Party leader in Texas, was leading a 2013 meeting on turning out Republicans when a black pastor asked him, “What are the Republicans doing to get black people to vote?” Emanuelson said, “I will be real honest with you. The party does not want black people to vote if they are going to vote nine to one for the Democrats.”

The efforts by Republicans to limit voting by Democrats is urgent as the white voter share of the electorate has fallen from 76 percent in 2000 to 67 percent in 2018. In response to a push by Democrats for reforms like same day registration, early voting, and mail voting this year, President Trump said, “The things they had in there were crazy. They had levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it, you would never have a Republican elected in this country again.” He is not alone on this.

This year, Trump and his conservative allies have launched a blatant voter suppression campaign. They have filed lawsuits all around the country to restrict mail voting and the counting of ballots. They have falsely attacked mail voting as rife with fraud and then encouraged intimidators to go visit polling places. Federal officials appointed by Trump installed Republican donor Louis DeJoy to be director of the Postal Service.

DeJoy enacted changes that slowed down mail and imperiled the timely delivery of mail ballots. These include the dismantling of automatic mail sorting machines, a directive to leave mail behind rather than having late or extra deliveries, and cutbacks with overtime. DeJoy claimed that these changes would improve the economy in his agency ridden by deficits. But the Postal Service has been in the red for years. DeJoy could have shortly deferred austerity measures until the election is done.

Four federal judges have since imposed temporary injunctions on these operational changes at the Postal Service, but it is still unclear how fully DeJoy has complied. Although delivery times have improved since these court orders, as compared to the period before the ascension of DeJoy, mail delivery was still slowed down through last month.


Citizens cannot change Postal Service policies and practices, but we can take the initiative to ensure the delivery of ballots is faster. The solution is to stop sending mail besides ballots, medicines, and other critical items between now and the election. Communicate by call, text, email, private couriers, or social media instead. Delay ordering of  packages and pause the sending of brochures until after the election is over.

Republicans and Democrats know that this will be the most momentous election in recent years. We can all contribute to a full and fair vote with the act of observing a mail moratorium for a few weeks.

Allan Lichtman is an election forecaster and a distinguished professor of history at American University. He is the author of “The Embattled Vote in America: From the Founding to the Present.” He tweets @AllanLichtman.