The chairs of the Hawaii legislative judiciary committees called for action to prevent the state's highly successful mail-in balloting from being disrupted by President Trump's moves against the U.S Postal Service.
The Postal Service has warned the states that it cannot guarantee delivery of mail-in ballots by the Nov. 3 general election even if they are mailed by state deadlines, according to the Associated Press. The warning has raised the possibility that millions of voters could be disenfranchised.
While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended mail ballots as a safe way to vote during the pandemic, Trump has without evidence dismissed mail balloting as fraudulent. He acknowledged on Thursday that he is starving the Postal Service of funding to make it harder to process an expected surge in mail-in ballots.
Critics say Trump is worried that an increase in mail ballots could cost him the election. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to vote by mail as seen in primary elections held so far this year.
Already, there has been a nationwide slowdown in mail delivery as newly appointed postmaster, Louise DeJoy, a Republican donor and logistics company executive, has cut overtime, late delivery trips and other expenses to make the Postal Service more profitable.
State Rep. Chris Lee, head of the House judiciary committee, said in a news release that 60% more Hawaii residents voted in the first statewide mail balloting during the Aug. 8 primary election.
"We can’t let these attempts to stop people from voting by defunding the postal service undermine free and fair elections in this country. This is more important than the fortunes of any political party or the outcome of any election – it’s an attempt to undermine people’s ability to vote, an attempt to undermine democracy itself,” Lee said.
State Sen. Karl Rhoads, who chairs the Senate judiciary committee, called the recent mail-in balloting a tremendous success. "Trump is afraid that everyone will vote and his unprecedented attack on the Post Office is an admitted attempt to stop voting by mail,” said Rhoads.
Both Lee and Rhoads are Democrats.
The chairmen called for steps to ensure voters' ballots are counted, among them:
• Send mail ballots several days early so that voters have additional time to vote in the case of USPS delays.
• Consider adding more voter ballot drop boxes where ballots can be deposited in the event of postal delays.
• Have Attorney General Clare Connors assess the state's legal options should Trump's attempts to prevemt voting continue.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Democrat-controlled House has called leaders of the Postal Service to appear in an emergency hearing on Aug. 24 to answer questions about the mail delays.