Democrats Went Postal With Sabotage Claims

The sabotage never happened

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) / Getty Images
November 11, 2020

The doomsday predictions advanced by Democratic Party leaders that President Trump would "sabotage" the Postal Service have failed to materialize.

Democrats in many swing states used reforms at the USPS to justify extended mail-in ballot deadlines and other election changes. But as ballots have trickled in since Election Day, evidence of disenfranchisement has remained thin.

Kevin Kosar, an American Enterprise Institute scholar and former Congressional Research Service official, said the service's cost-cutting measures do not appear to have affected its ability to handle the largest mail-in voter turnout in history.

"As far as we can tell, the Postal Service did a pretty good job, and we've yet to see one significant story reported on how ballots were left behind and it had negative effects on the election," Kosar told the Washington Free Beacon.

Extensions to mail-in ballot deadlines also proved unnecessary, as no state's results thus far will be overturned by the number of late-arriving ballots. According to Jason Snead of the Honest Elections Project, this was part of a strategy by Democrats to count late votes.

"For months, Americans were treated to conspiracy theories of USPS 'sabotage' to slow down mail-in ballots and disenfranchise huge numbers of mail-in voters," he said. "This fearmongering was used to justify an unprecedented legal onslaught by deep-pocketed progressive groups in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Carolina to force these states to count late, and legally invalid, ballots."

The lack of evidence of mass disenfranchisement now stands at odds with claims from Democratic Party leaders, who repeatedly warned that the Trump administration and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy were conspiring to sabotage the Postal Service in the months before the election.

In August, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) warned of "the devastating effects of the President's campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters." Former president Barack Obama said President Trump was "undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that's going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don't get sick." Rep. Gerry Connolly (D., Va.) called DeJoy's proposed reforms "sabotage," and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.), who chairs the Government Oversight Committee, accused Trump of another attempt "to prevent millions of Americans from having their votes counted." Two House Democrats even asked the FBI to open a criminal investigation into Postmaster General DeJoy. Such rhetoric bred distrust in voters, according to Kosar.

"It's irresponsible for any public figure with a significant audience to say things that are not true about election processes," he said. "It's just inherently irresponsible, and it only feeds anxiety and fears."

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania's top elections official said that just 10,000 ballots were received after Election Day during the three-day extension period, too few to have an impact on the final result.  In North Carolina, results are still not final because of the state's extended ballot deadline. The director of the North Carolina board of elections said the state was considering "a very small number of votes" received in the period after Election Day. Officials in Michigan and Wisconsin urged voters to return absentee ballots in person, instead of through the mail, after the courts rejected an attempt to extend the state's ballot deadline. All of those states were able to experience record turnout without significant logistical problems with vote-by-mail.

The Postal Service did not respond to requests for comment. On October 29, the agency issued a press release stating that it went to "extraordinary measures to advance and expedite the delivery of the nation's ballots" and had processed and delivered 122 million blank and completed ballots. Snead said that scare tactics, rather than postal reform, undermined the nation's "democratic norms."

"Voters across the nation had ample avenues to cast their ballots in a timely fashion, with weeks of absentee voting, early in-person, and safe Election Day voting opportunities," he said. "There was simply no reason to depart from democratic norms to try to rewrite election laws in courts mid-election and in fashions designed to skew elections for partisan gain."