CLEVELAND — Budget cuts couldn’t have come at a worse time, according to Cleveland’s American Postal Workers Union President Daleo Freeman.
“We’re still dealing with COVID going into the fall season on top of…the holiday season,” Freeman said. “Stripping those things away for whatever reason, then our members and our brothers and sisters across the country as well as Cleveland, we’re upset about it.”
Freeman said the group is already faced with coronavirus setbacks, including furloughed members and a decline in mailing services. Not to mention doubt surrounding its ability to handle an influx of mail-in ballots this November.
“We are definitely more than prepared, and the people are willing to do it, but when again when you start to strip away the resources that [are] needed then it’s going to put a strain on the people,” he said.
Case Western Economics Professor Daniel Shoag said cutting back on resources like sorting machines and employee overtime isn’t helpful.
“We are going to need to give this option to people,” Shoag said. “Our government spends a lot of money on things that are a lot more expensive, so this is really an execution issue, not an affordability issue.”
The changes were handed down by the U.S. Postal Services’ new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy after President Donald Trump denied the agency $26 billion in funding.
The Associated Press reports the U.S. Postal Services sent letters to 46 states, including Ohio, that warn it can’t guarantee all ballots cast by mail will be delivered in time to be counted. The postal service warns the deadline to request absentee ballots in some states like Ohio is too close to election day.
Ohioans have until Oct. 31 at noon to request an absentee ballot.
“We’re seeing these rules being issued with no real advocacy at all on behalf of the need for an effective, efficient mailed ballot processing system,” said News 5 Political Analyst Tom Sutton.
Sutton said it raises suspicion.
“You can’t help but wonder to what degree is this being done to discourage the vote or to even set up a situation where people will vote in good faith but never have those ballots counted,” he said.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said he pushed to move the deadline to request an absentee ballot up by four days but was unsuccessful.
Ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 can be counted if received up to 10 days past the election.