The Democratic lawmakers and government watchdogs on Saturday called the recently made changes at the US postal service by US President Donald Trump's loyal and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy as "Friday night massacre" and demanded an inquiry whether changes could threaten the use of mail-in ballots for the November election.
Trump loyal ousts top officers from US Postal service
On Friday, Trump loyal DeJoy issued sweeping changes that aim to restructure the organization of the agency including changes in policies. The changes resulted in the ousting of top executives besides some decade-old veterans of the US Postal service and reshuffling of over two dozen other officials.
On the policy level, the new changes have put limitations on overtime, freeze new hiring, and have refused to accept billions of dollars in aids for funding the agency, which critics say is to slow down the delivery of mail-in ballots during the election.
Changes come two months before the election
The changes at the US Postal service come just two months ahead of the November presidential election and are widely viewed as an effort to sabotage the outcome of the November election.
Critics say the changes at the agency have been done to undermine the Postal Service broadly as well as hinder the efforts to efficiently carry out mail-in voting during the 2020 presidential election.
Due to coronavirus pandemic, the majority of the US population is planning to vote via mail increasing the dependence on US postal service for delivering ballots on time for vote counting.
Critics say the effort is to undermine the election
The changes, critics say, would impact the efficiency of the agency and as a result, could slow down the delivery of ballots during the election.
The election rule stipulates that any delay in the delivery of ballots at the time of counting in the election could invalidate votes. A precedent of it happened at Democratic primary when ballots were considered invalidated because the post office did not deliver some of the ballots on time.
Trump had suggested delaying the elections
Trump had earlier suggested delaying the November election as he cast doubt on mail-in voting saying it leads to voter fraud. Even though there has been no widespread proof of voter fraud nor did he himself provided any proof of it, yet, Trump had been making unfounded accusations regularly.
His suggestion to delay the election was widely criticised both by Republicans and Democrats as the US Constitution does not provide power to the president to change or delay the date of elections.
Now, this sweeping change at the US postal service by Trump's loyal DeJoy, who has been a major donor to the Republican PAC, just two months before the election is being viewed with suspicion, and watchdogs say is primarily aimed at affecting the outcome of November election.
DeJoy dismisses criticism
DeJoy, however, brushed off the criticism and said that changes made by him would not delay the timely delivery of ballots. He said it is wrong to say that any of his action is done on the behest of Trump.
"While I certainly have a good relationship with the president of the United States, the notion that I would ever make decisions concerning the Postal Service at the direction of the president or anyone else in the administration is wholly off-base," Salon reported DeJoy saying.
Call for inquiry
Outside critics like Walter Shaub, who had also been the head of the office of government ethics, said the changes made by DeJoy cannot be seen less than a direct effort by him to further President Donald Trump's political interests and reflection prospects.
A liberal commentator Brian Tyler Cohen called on democrats to do something about this immediately.
In a tweet he said, "If we wait until October/November, it'll be too late," said Cohen. "Trump is actively sabotaging the election under our noses—this isn't theoretical, it's happening RIGHT NOW."
Several Democratic lawmakers have written to the Inspector General for the Postal Service to audit the new policies imposed by DeJoy, saying they were concerned the changes "pose a potential threat to mail-in ballots and 2020.
"These delays also pose a threat to the November election, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic when millions of Americans are expected to choose to vote by mail rather than wait in long lines on Election Day," the lawmakers wrote, NYT reported.
DeJoy was appointed to the post of Postmaster General at US Postal Service by GOP controlled board of governors in May. Since 2016, he has donated over 2.6 million to the Republican part. In 2020 alone, he has given over $360,000 to a Super PAC supporting Trump's reelection.