By Tom Conway
USW International President
Joel Buchanan’s stomach turned when he watched poll workers deny ballots to Latinx voters ostensibly because the names and addresses on their driver’s licenses didn’t match those on election records.
And his blood boiled when election officials closed polling stations in poor neighborhoods, deliberately disenfranchising citizens unable to travel to other communities to cast their ballots.
“It’s ugly, and as un-American as you can get,” the retired Steelworker and Navy veteran said of the voter suppression he’s observed as a campaign activist and poll watcher in various states.
Although dismayed by the duplicity he witnessed during two decades of political activism, Buchanan never expected to see an American president openly try to steal an election by disenfranchising millions of voters.
But that’s what’s happening. Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to tear down the U.S. Postal Service and cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots are nothing but a desperate attempt to undermine American democracy.
“We’re talking about an assault on our rights and our form of government,” noted Buchanan, a longtime member of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2102, who first got involved in politics because local elected officials failed to support union members during a 1997 steel mill strike in his hometown of Pueblo, Colo.
“When a president tries to manipulate the post office to benefit himself in an election, what’s going to happen if he wins that election?” Buchanan asked. “What’s the next step? These are scary times.”
Trump and his new, hand-picked postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, dismantled critically important mail-sorting machines, banned postal worker overtime, reduced hours at some post offices and eliminated trips to intentionally delay the delivery of mail-in ballots beyond election deadlines.
That would disenfranchise millions of Americans who want to vote by mail this year because they fear contracting COVID-19 at the polls.