On Sept. 1, around a dozen Knox County residents congregated in Mount Vernon’s town square to attend the Rally for the Post Office, a public demonstration to support the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Starting at 6:00 p.m., demonstrators began at the Cooper Water Fountain and made their way to the Mount Vernon Post Office. The group carried signs advocating for new voter registration and declaring support for the USPS. Some of the signs’ messages included “Protect the Post,” “Vote Early in-person” and “Don’t mess with the USPS.”
The rally was a direct response to the recent flurry of USPS infrastructure changes, in which COVID-19-induced budget shortfalls led to a removal of numerous mailboxes, 20 percent of all mail-sorting machines and postal workers’ overtime hours.
The changes were implemented under the direction of Postmaster General and Republican party donor Louis DeJoy. DeJoy’s USPS cutbacks have been a topic of great controversy, as the upcoming 2020 election will depend heavily on accessible vote-by-mail. On Sept. 2, DeJoy was subpoenaed to testify in front of the U.S.House Oversight and Reform Committee, on the grounds that the recent infrastructure changes may drastically hinder the USPS’s ability to handle the influx of ballots.
Residents in 46 states, including Ohio, are at risk of disenfranchisement this fall under an underfunded, overworked mail system. According to a Washington Post investigation, USPS sorting capacity in Columbus, Ohio has decreased by 327,000 pieces of mail per hour as a result of the changes — the fourth largest drop in the country. With Ohio firmly established as a key Midwestern swing state, any drastic impediment to the procession of mail-in ballots could alter the results of elections up and down the ballot.
For those who would prefer to vote in person, Knox County will have over 20 polling places open on Election Day. Kenyon students and Gambier residents can do so at the Gambier Community Center, located at 115 Meadow Lane. Additionally, early voting will be available at the Knox County Board of Elections building at 104 East Sugar Street in downtown Mount Vernon from Oct. 6 to Nov. 2. To register to vote in Ohio, head to the Ohio Secretary of State website at olvr.ohiosos.gov/. Ohio’s voter registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 5, with Oct. 31 being the latest to request a vote-by-mail ballot. For more information, and for forms such as the absentee ballot request form, visit boe.knoxcounty.oh.gov/