At least 100 demonstrators rallied outside the White Plains post office Saturday morning to call attention to the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the United States Postal Service less than three months before the election.
The protest, part of a nationwide effort called Save the Post Office Saturday, was organized by a collection of activist groups that want to ensure that voters aren’t disenfranchised by the expected rise in paper ballots for this year’s general election because of the pandemic. Other rallies were held around the region at the same time, including one outside the post office in Yorktown Heights.
Holding a variety of signs, protesters also advocated for millions of citizens and businesses who depend on the postal service to have their medications delivered on time and to help keep commerce flowing.
Speakers included Mondaire Jones, the Democratic nominee in the 17th Congressional District, said that President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have brazenly looked to dismantle the postal service to make it harder to vote this fall. Hundreds of mail sorters have been taken out of service and the removal of mailboxes, particularly in areas of key battleground states, he said.
“This is not a Republican or Democratic issue,” said Jones, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed earlier this week against the administration over the issue. “This is an existential crisis that we face because of the occupant of the Oval Office, because he has calculated that if he makes it more difficult for people to vote then he will be able to steal yet another presidential election.”
Andrew Buder, a New Rochelle attorney and regional director of the New York Democratic Lawyers Counsel, said the postal service handles 417 million pieces of mail each day and employs more than 500,000 people, including about 100,000 veterans.
In the 2018 mid-term elections, about 42 million people voted by mail, and that number is expected to surge in this year’s presidential election because of COVID-19, he said.
“Protecting our right to vote is absolutely essential to protecting our post offices to everyone at all times,” Buder said.
During the more than half-hour rally, several postal workers came out through the front door of the Fisher Avenue facility to applaud the protesters. One brought out bottles of cold water for those who showed up and standing in the hot sun.
The protests were held on the same day that the House of Representatives approved $25 billion in funding for the postal service to help it handle the likely onslaught of ballots this fall. It is designed to prevent service reductions to the postal service, provide urgently-needed funding to respond to the stress on the service during the COVID-19 pandemic and protect its long-term viability.
Although it passed with unanimous backing from House Democrats and more than two dozen Republicans, it is unclear what the GOP-controlled Senate will do.
For those who attended the rally on Saturday, concerns ranged from receiving medication and sending and receiving payments on time to concerns about whether millions of ballots will reach their destination on time.
White Plains resident Kenny Burr, second vice chair of the New York State Disability Caucus, said too many people are in jeopardy of failing to receive their life-saving medication on time if the postal service is hampered. As someone who is disabled, Burr said he has been working from home and depends on the mail to bring him what he needs for his job and his paychecks.
“Senior citizens and people with disabilities who aren’t able to have the option of going to the drugstore – luckily I don’t have any medications that are absolutely critical to me being productive and active in society – but for many people this is life and death,” he said.
Barry Graubart of Irvington, representing Moms Demand Action, was more focused on having a free and fair election.
“The idea of having our elections stolen, it undercuts everything that we’re trying to do,” Graubart said. “There is nothing more important that I can be doing today or any day over the next 70-some-odd days then to make sure we have fair elections.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/