President Dimondstein Testifies Before Congress About Vote By Mail

July 1, 2020

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

On June 11, President Dimondstein testified before a congressional hearing of the Committee on House Administration on Voting Rights and Election Administration. Much of the hearing was focused on the expanded use of vote by mail in the 2020 elections. Other witnesses included Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09), and Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), two state Secretaries of State, and voting rights advocates from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

President Dimondstein’s testimony is reprinted:

Good afternoon Chairwoman Fudge, Ranking Member Davis, members of the committee. My name is Mark Dimondstein. I am the President of the American Postal Workers Union. We represent 200,000 postal workers who serve every community in the country every day, including as frontline workers during these challenging and dangerous pandemic times.

Postal Workers are extremely dedicated and proud public servants. We are serious about the oath of office we take to protect the privacy and sanctity of the mail. We treat your mail as if it were our own. We are trusted by the public with a 91 percent favorability rating, equal among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

We carry out the mission to “bind the nation together,” connecting people and business in numerous ways – collecting, sorting and delivering medicine, health information, financial and legal transactions, census forms, greeting cards, letters, periodicals, pension and stimulus checks, ecommerce packages, and yes, tens of millions of mail ballots.

Voting by mail is nothing new for us. We’ve been handling the task for generations, and doing it well – serving overseas military personnel, those on travel, in states that mandate vote by mail or the tens of millions who choose do it, from the current president of the United States to my mother who voted her last time by absentee ballot from a hospital bed. No doubt the President’s ballot and my mother’s vote were safely and timely delivered.

So as vote by mail has been thrust into the forefront by a tragic and ongoing pandemic, I urge you to take into account the already proven experience: Voting by mail works. It increases voter participation. It helps counter voter suppression. It creates a paper trail. It cannot be hacked. It is private, trusted and secure. It saves money. There is virtually an absence of increased voter fraud.

As we head into this election season, many will continue to be shuttered in place or quarantined, seniors and those with health conditions less likely to gather in public settings, unavailability of poll workers and the threat of the further spread of this deadly disease still ever present, robust state plans for vote by mail will literally make the difference on whether tens of millions of people will have access to the ballot box.

We need only look to the example of the last several primary states to see the difference vote by mail can make to ensuring safe, timely and universal access to our most sacred democratic right – the right to vote. This fact underscores that we must ensure that our national treasure, the Postal Service, is on a solid footing in the months to come. The COVID pandemic economic crisis has deeply affected the Postal Service. Mail volume and revenue has been severely reduced. While packages have temporarily increased, this will not be sustained. As an institution that receives no tax dollars, a deep fall in revenue means that the Postal Service will soon be unable to carry out its mandate of universal service to all 160 million addresses, including when it comes to ballots.

The Postal Service has testified to the House Oversight committee that the USPS is anticipating “a $13 billion revenue loss directly due to COVID-19 this fiscal year and a $54.3 billion additional losses over ten years” and raised the Postal Service will “run out of cash this fiscal year” without appropriated relief from Congress and the Administration. So the first condition of any successful expansion of vote by mail to protect our democratic right during the pandemic, is to stabilize the finances of the Postal Service via an emergency appropriation of at least $25 billion proposed in the HEROES Act, which represents only part of the proposal of the bipartisan and Republican majority Postal Board of Governors.

Our country’s founders recognized the important role of the Postal Service by enshrining it in the U.S. Constitution itself. There is no better contribution to civic life than to maintain and enhance our access to our hard fought for and cherished right to vote.

Thank you and I look forward to any questions.

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