Fighting for the Right to Vote by Mail

LOS ANGELES COUNTY (September 1, 2020) – Fighting to uphold the Constitutional right to vote, the Board of Supervisors ratified an Executive Order opposing the Trump Administration’s cost-cutting efforts at the United States Postal Service (USPS), calling it a brazen attack on Americans’ ability to vote by mail.

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Board Chair Pro Tem Hilda Solis issued the Executive Order last month, as soon as the postal service curtailments became public. The Executive Order authorized County Counsel to join litigation as amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) to oppose the changes at the USPS.

The Board ratified that Executive Order today, their first day back in session after a brief recess.

“We’ve fought too hard to have our voices heard on Election Day, and we cannot allow the Postmaster General to suppress our right to vote by mail and undermine a pillar of our democracy,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “It is imperative that we take a stand so voters can cast their ballots without having to go to a polling station during a pandemic.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has fought for voting rights for decades. He founded the African American Voter Registration, Education and Participation (AAVREP) in 2002, the largest organized effort to register African American and urban voters in California. This after a decade of service as the Executive Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, whose national organization was founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

US Rep. Karen Bass, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, supported the Executive Order along with the leaders of two nonprofits, A New Way of Life and Community Build.

“My father was a letter carrier for more than 30 years here in Los Angeles. The United States Postal Service is not only vital to our election, but also to the livelihood of so many in our communities,” said Rep. Bass. “The Post Office is one of the largest employers of veterans. We must continue to do all that we can to protect this institution from those who are looking to destroy it.”

Rep. Bass is among the leading Congressional Representatives calling for the resignation of the US Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, and for the Administration to cease any “operational initiatives” that will have an impact on election mail.

A New Way of Life founder Susan Burton added, “As a formerly incarcerated person, I know that my vote matters. I depend on the Post Office to deliver my vote to the County Registrar Recorder’s Office. We are appalled at the Trump administration’s attempt to disrupt the US Postal Service during such a critical time.”

A New Way of Life helps formerly incarcerated women successfully reenter society by connecting them to supportive services. One of its projects is L.A. Free the Vote, aimed at increasing the civic engagement of people in the justice system.

Community Build President and CEO Robert Sausedo said, “As an American, I am sickened by Trump’s attempt to undermine the American people and create barriers to accessing our fundamental rights to participate in our democracy by way of the vote. Dismantling the Postal Service is demonstrative of his contempt for our individual rights and his pugnacious nature for making wrong right and right wrong. If ever there was a time to stand up against tyranny, this is that time.”

Community Build is a nonprofit dedicated to the revitalization of South LA communities through investment in youth and commercial economic development.

The USPS has always played a central role in the functioning of American democracy but has become even more critical amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people will rely on mail not only to cast ballots but also to receive lifesaving medications and other supplies during a time when it is incredibly risky to gather in one place, to stand in line, and to touch the same election machinery.

Despite that, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy recently, and just before the General Election, decided to implement changes at the USPS without first seeking authority from the Postal Commission, and despite acknowledging that the service reductions would result in “mail left behind.”

DeJoy, a Republican Party and Trump campaign donor, later canceled some of the changes after a public outcry. The USPS, however, has already removed many mailboxes from service across several states.

His actions face legal challenges from the Attorneys General of several states, including California.