On the day the House of Representatives voted on a bill to block changes to the United States Postal Service advanced by a Trump-backed postmaster general, sparking fears of meddling in the November election, demonstrators in New York City joined a nationwide protest to save the integrity of the post office.
Gatherings were held outside post office locations in parts of the city, including the Upper West Side, in support of post offices. At 68th Street and Columbus Avenue, a handful of protesters clapped as they chanted "save our votes." Among the protesters was Francesca Bollaro, an Upper West Side resident who grew up in a rural part of the country and has relied on mail. Bollaro fears President Trump is attempting to disrupt the election after coming out against mail-in voting, expected to play a major role in the November election because of the pandemic.
"I just can't believe that he's trying to eliminate vote by mail," said Bollaro, referring to Trump. "I just feel strongly that we have to get out and make our voices heard or it will just happen."
The protest was organized by MoveOn as part of a national protest seeking to ensure the integrity of USPS.
“From the most remote village in the Alaskan tundra to the tiniest island in the Everglades, there’s one connection we’ve always depended on: the mail. Together, we’re coming together to support a beloved system that every American relies on,” said Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn, in a statement. “In this pandemic, the mail is how millions of us will deliver our democracy. We reject these attacks on the USPS. We demand full restoration of machines and personnel plus full funding for the post office. We will fight until every vote is counted.”
Susan Weiswasser, another Upper West Side resident, was on hand for the protest.
"Pretty outraged with what's going on. We need to make sure we protect our vote," said Weiswasser, adding the vote must be protected. "One by one, our rights are going to be taken away, and this is this is the most important."
Weisswasser tuned into last week's Senate hearing on changes made to the USPS in June by recently appointed postmaster general Louis DeJoy, who was voted in by the Board of Governors and has contributed to Trump's campaigns. At the hearing by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, DeJoy said he is not sabotaging the upcoming election, telling committee members that, “I think the American public should be able to vote by mail and the Postal Service will support it."
The comments indicate a departure from Trump's position. On August 13th, Trump came out opposing mail-in voting for the upcoming general election, adding that he's also against funding the post office because it will enable Americans to vote by mail.
“Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said on August 13th. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.”
New York is expected to have a large number of residents cast an absentee ballot for the November 3rd election. During the primary, absentee ballots played a major role in some too-close-to-call races, with results taking more than a month to produce. Some ballots were invalidated by boards of elections in New York since they did not have a postmark to indicate the ballot had been sent on the day or before the June 23rd primary.
"They need to put their feet to the fire," said Weisswasser.
Another hearing on the post office changes is scheduled Monday.