It’s an Election Year – and Vote by Mail is on the Ballot

March 18, 2020

Share this article

(This article first appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

2020 is an election year. While much of the country’s political attention span is consumed by the presidential primary, there is another important question heading into November this year – not for whom voters will vote, but how they will vote. One of A Grand Alliance’s key priorities for a more vibrant public Postal Service is the expansion of postal voting, usually referred to as “vote at home” or “vote by mail.”

Since the last election, a number of states made significant changes to their voting laws to expand the use of vote by mail options. In other states, voters will go to the polls this November and have the chance to vote for vote at home!

In Virginia, spurred by the work of the national Vote at Home coalition (which includes the APWU, NALC and other Grand Alliance allies), legislators recently passed a broad package of voting rights reforms that recognize the important role of the mail in expanding democracy. First was a bill that makes Virginia a “no excuse” absentee voting state, meaning that any voter can request their ballot papers at home without providing a qualified excuse. The second important change in Virginia was passing a “permanent absentee” provision so that voters can opt to vote by mail in every election, without having to register as an absentee voter in each election.

Those two changes now await the governor’s signature, which is expected soon. Postage-paid return of ballots was not able to make it across the finish line, but advocates expect it will be up for ballot allocation in Virginia again in 2021 and stands a good chance of passage. In Pennsylvania, similar reforms passed into law since the last election and are in place for 2020 voting. Voters will enjoy no-excuse absentee voting for the first time and can vote by mail as early as 50 days before the primary and general election days. Pennsylvania also expanded the permanent vote by mail options, meaning voters can register to receive all their future ballots by the mail.

These changes expand democratic rights of voters and ensure everyone has access to the ballot box. For A Grand Alliance, it is an important demonstration of the power of the trusted, public, universal Postal Service to meet the needs of the country in significant ways.

New report sheds light on billions wasted on school privatization efforts

For years, corporate interests have funded vicious attacks on public education and the teachers’ unions that defend it. The most notable manifestation of their efforts to break unions and privatize education has been the charter school movement of the last two decades, which we have covered in this column before.

A new report from the Network for Public Education shows that the federal Department of Education (DOE), under the leadership of pro-privatization Education Secretary Betsy Devos, continues to waste millions of public dollars on privatization schemes that never even led to the creation of new schools!

The report, titled "Still Asleep at the Wheel," finds that the DOE’s Charter School Program has awarded public grants to schools that immediately converted back to being private schools, or even to boards that never broke ground on a new school. In total, it identified 537 “ghost schools” and other instances that cost more than $500 million. Charter schools are usually funded at least in part by public funds, but are usually privately-managed or subject to different rules and regulations than traditional public schools. Public education advocates have long held that the charter school movement is a thinly-veiled campaign to defund quality public education and bust unions, shrouded under the guise of “education reform.” The report sheds light on the tremendous amounts of public money wasted on these cynical efforts. Taxpayer money should instead be invested in quality public services we all deserve!

A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service is a broad coalition of national, state and local organizations including the NAACP, Vote Vets, Jobs with Justice, National Council of Churches and Rainbow PUSH. These groups have come together to take a stand against the unprecedented assaults on the Postal Service including efforts to dismantle and privatize it. To join A Grand Alliance, visit

Stay in touch with your union

Subscribe to receive important information from your union.