Menendez: This kind of suppression comes straight out of a dictator’s playbook

Margaret Milizzo voted in person in July’s primary and plans to again in the November presidential election. She says mail delivery has been slow since the pandemic began.

“I think that has the most impact. I don’t think what the president is doing right now has any at all,” Milizzo said.

But some elected leaders disagree after President Donald Trump appointed a donor, Louis DeJoy, as postmaster general. His appointee’s changes have been blamed for slowing down mail delivery. Add to that what the president said last week about billions of dollars to fund the United States Postal Service.

“If we don’t make a deal, that means that the money, that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting,” Trump said on Fox Business on Aug. 15.

Members of Congress say it’s obvious what the president is doing and they want to hold hearings to hold someone accountable.

“This kind of suppression comes straight out of a dictator’s playbook,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.

Richard O’Connell, the president of the New Jersey Association of Letter Carriers, stood with Menendez and blamed the slow mail delivery of drug prescriptions and more on shortages in staffing, among other issues.

“Letter carriers have become angry, frustrated and embarrassed by the various USPS management initiatives that have now resulted in delayed mail, undeliverable routes in many areas of the country,” said O’Connell.

But what about vote-by-mail ballots?

“We’re confident that there won’t be any issues with the vote by mail. We’re just encouraging you to get them in as early as you receive them,” he said.

Despite the Letter Carriers’ confidence, Democrats insist the president and DeJoy are trying to sabotage the election, prompting calls for a criminal investigation. New Jersey may join a growing list of states to take legal action.

“Absolutely, we will do what it takes. It’s a disgrace to politicize the postal service,” Gov. Phil Murphy said on the Today Show.

Murphy has called for a mostly vote-by-mail November election and ordered some polling places to open. Critics have taken aim, saying if New Jerseyans can stand in MVC lines, why not for voting.

“We should not allow people to be restricted from in-person voting, if that’s what they choose,” said voter Frank Miqueli.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick is drafting a bill that calls for in-person voting to start 14 days before Election Day and insisting laid-off state employees could work the pools. Bramnick casts doubt on the secrecy of voting by mail.

“I’m afraid there may not be privacy when you fill out that form, and those forms aren’t that easy to figure out,” Bramnick said. “I mean, I’m elected official and you look at these things and it’s not 100% clear.”

Elizabeth Matto, the director of Rutgers Center for Youth Political Participation, says voters should not have to choose between their physical health and exercising the right to vote.

“People living overseas, military personnel overseas, have safely, effectively used vote by mail, cast their ballot via vote by mail for years and year. Now, true, to scale up a system quickly is challenging, it takes a lot of support. But I am concerned that it’s been politicized. Especially if the concern is voter fraud, there really is very minimal, there’s not much data or support for the notion that vote by mail is a fraudulent way to cast your ballot,” Matto said.

Matto says one takeaway from the mostly vote-by-mail July primary is the process needs a major voter education campaign.