A woman in face mask disinfecting polling stations with disinfectant between voters due to covid-19 coronavirus on election day 2020. Voting booths with hand sanitizer. Photo credit: MargJohnsonVA via Twenty20

Georgia mail-in ballots are in jeopardy, as USPS operations still a sore spot in elections

After an extremely busy holiday and a USPS in disrepair, voter turnout in Georgia Senate runoff elections hangs in the balance.

Cassandra Loftlin, a chef working between Boston and her hometown of Augusta, Georgia says it took the post office almost a month to deliver her ballot. “My ballot was requested on November 30th. I received it on December 22nd. I dropped it off on December 23rd and it was counted on Saturday [January 3],” explains Loftlin who also was told that the local office stopped scanning mail.

An avid voter and active organizer in the culinary world, Loftlin says the US Post Office claimed a “competing crisis” is the cause for its service disruptions. “Christmas plus Covid shortage of staff, plus voting runoffs” she told Ark Republic. 

Loftlin is one of 5.44 million active voters in Georgia who can vote in Tuesday’s Senate runoff races. She represents part of rural Georgia that Democrats must capture to win critical races that can place them as a majority in the Senate. Rarely, are there two seats in the same state that make it to the runoff stage. But, if Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock beat out Republican candidates, Senator Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the Senate would be equally divided. Serving as the tie-breaker, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will vote on the Democratic line. 

Plus, if the Senate wins, President-elect Joe Biden will carry out an administration for the first 100 days with a Blue Wave⸺a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate.

Georgia has over 3 million registered voters. In the Senate runoffs for the 2020 elections, 34% of votes were cast by African Americans going into runoffs. Photo credit: Cottonbro of Pexels.

Even though, Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner blocked a voter purge in two Georgia districts, there still remains an issue for votes to be counted. Due to the Covid-19 crisis followed by a nationwide shut down, many voters opted to cast absentee ballots by mail. The problem is that USPS, under the leadership of Trump-appointee, Louis Dejoy, has been running crappy at best.

After Dejoy took the helm of USPS in May 2020, operations have weakened dramatically. Under his watch, he ordered processing operations to shut down along with removing mailboxes in certain locations across the country, reported Ark Republic. Citizens complained of severe delivery delays as well as missing postal items. USPS services became so dismal that congress called for a hearing with Dejoy to answer questions about his operational decisions.

During last November’s major elections, Georgia reported 6,625 missing ballots, along with gross delays in a state with only three mailing districts. So severe were the complaints than in Macon⸺another rural city with a significant Black voting population⸺Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) investigated a processing center there.

Bloomberg reported that going into Tuesday’s elections, Black Georgians were needed for the win. While Black urbanites were going to the polls, rural Georgia with Black populations were showing low turnouts. The possibility could be that they’re lost in the mail.

| Watch: Democrats charge Trump and USPS Dejoy work to sabotage elections

Along with voting issues, small business operations that now must rely on shipping have felt the brunt of USPS’ poor performance. Loftlin experienced postal delays as far back as July 2020, which in turn, interrupted her delivery of items for work. “I ordered items from chefs to give as gifts. I ordered on 12/16. My delivery date was supposed to be 12/22. They arrived 12/28,” she wrote to Ark Republic.

Cassandra who occasionally carries on digital bake sales to help businesses in need, said she “stopped shipping between 12/18 and won’t ship . . . until 1/11.”

. . . .

As for Tuesday’s elections, Democrats are hoping that the recent release of a recording of Donald Trump attempting to pressure election officials in Georgia to recount and fudge presidential ballots to his favor, just might turn the tide of voters’ choices. However, many voters are not holding their breaths. Democrat supporters are making their way to the polls which will remain open until 7 p.m.

Kaia Shivers covers news, features and the diaspora.

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