Vote by Mail: An Alternative to the USPS


John Scales Avery – TRANSCEND Media Service

The US Postal Service is in trouble

According to an article by Prof. Philip F. Rubio, entitled “Save the Postal Service”, published in Atlantic Monthly on April 24, 2020, “The USPS has said that it needs $89 billion in assistance, including $25 billion in grants.”

Republicans Realize That They Will Lose if the 2020 Election Is Fair

Donald Trump’s disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the pandemic’s terrible economic effects, has made Republicans unpopular; and this is reflected in recent polls. It seems extremely likely that if large numbers of voters participate in the November election, the Democrats will win. Realizing this, the Republicans are doing everything they can to make the election unfair, and to reduce voter participation, especially in districts with large numbers of Democrats. Part of this Republican strategy is to sabotage voting by mail, and to force voters to choose between risking their lives in the pandemic and abandoning their civic duty. Under these circumstances, with Republicans controlling the Senate, and with Trump’s veto power, it is unlikely that the US Postal Service will be saved in time for the election. We must look for an alternative.

Why the 2020 Election Is so Important

Why did Prof. Noam Chomsky call the US Republican Party “The most dangerous organization in the history of the world”? He did so because the party is characterized by climate change denial and by support for giant fossil fuel corporations. According to the 2018 IPCC Report, the world has only a very short time left in which to stop the extraction and use of fossil fuels. If we collectively fail to do this within a decade or so, feedback loops may be initiated and this will make human efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change useless. Much of the world could become uninhabitable, and a very large-scale mass extinction could be initiated. Although the worst effects of global warming lie in the long-term future, children alive today are at risk. We give our children loving care, but it makes no sense to do so unless we also do everything in our power to ensure that they, and all future generations, will inherit a world in which they can survive.

Donald Trump’s Neo-Fascism

According to the divorce filings of Trump’s first wife, he kept a copy of translations of Hitler’s speeches beside his bedside and studied them thoroughly. His 2016 campaign was openly racist, and since taking office he has been a racist in word and deed. Trump’s use of unidentified troops in unmarked vehicles to tear-gas, beat and terrorize peaceful protesters is reminiscent of Hitler’s Brown Shirts. We can recall that Hitler came to power legally, but retained power through illegal methods. There is a worrying similarity between what is happening in the USA today and what happened in Germany in the 1930’s.

Can Americans Vote by Mail without the US Post Office?

Let us suppose that the November election approaches and the US Post office is unable to deliver mail-in votes. Is there any other way that these votes can be delivered? I believe that there are some possibilities. Volunteers could go from door to door collecting ballots from voters. When a large number have been collected, these could be placed in sealed packages and delivered to the state voter registration authorities. The voters could then receive e-mailed confirmations that their vote arrived safely. This method could be open to both political parties, and thus free from the allegation of bias.

There May Be Other Methods

I do not pretend to know exactly what method should be used in case the US Post Office is unavailable to deliver mail-in ballots in November. There may be other better methods than the one just proposed. However, I strongly believe that alternative methods should be discussed. This election is crucial, not only for the United States, but also for all of human society and for the biosphere.


John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf).


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 3 Aug 2020.

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