Voters are taking to the polls as they open for early voting, opting to file old-fashioned in-person ballots rather than trusting the U.S. Postal Service to actually get mail-in votes there in time.
“I just didn’t want to risk it,” Abdi Ali said as he walked out of East Boston High School, which was one of the city’s early voting locations on Saturday.
Marissa Guerard, voting early at Weymouth Town Hall, said much the same: “With all the rumors about post boxes getting removed, I just don’t want to risk my ballot not getting delivered.”
They were two of several voters on Saturday, the state’s first day of early voting before the Sept. 1 primary, who said the tumult around the Postal Service had led them to show up and vote in person in the midst of a pandemic.
The Postal Service’s motto states that its letter carriers won’t be waylaid by “snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night,” but it makes no mention of its biggest obstacle now: politics.
House Democrats, claiming President Trump is intentionally slowing down USPS operations to depress turnout, are trying to advance $25 billion in additional funding for the Postal Service. Trump, in turn, is vowing to block the funds as he tries to cast a pall over mail-in voting. His Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy — who’s come under heavy fire from Democrats — insists the USPS is able to handle whatever voters throw at it.
In Massachusetts, which features a highly competitive Senate race and multiple contested congressional seats, all mail-in ballots have to arrive by primary day in order to be counted. There is an ongoing lawsuit filed by one candidate in the 4th Congressional District to try to give mail ballots a few days’ leeway, as will be the case in the general election.
Bill Nurse and Mallory Schoendorf, who’d just cast their votes at East Boston High — and then taken a selfie with the “VOTE HERE” flag — said they actually had filled out mail-in ballots and simply brought them to the high school to drop them off. They put them in the metal box reserved for that purpose, and said they were happy to have the certainty from doing so.
“You just don’t know if they’re going to end up being late in the mail,” Nurse said.
Several voters said they’d come out to do early in-person voting just because it’s easy.
“Right now, the social-distancing restrictions are not as tight, and since early voting is available, I wanted to take advantage of it,” said Brenda Johnson. “Sometimes mail can get lost or take weeks to receive, and I wasn’t sure if there was any way to verify that my vote was counted.”
Much the same was the case with Mark Simmons, 60, who said it was easy to take care of, and helps make sure he’s not waiting in line to vote.
He added, “I also think someone’s playing a game with the mail because up until July I used to get mail every day. This is the second time in two weeks that I haven’t gotten any.”
In East Boston, Suzi Merconi, sporting an “I voted!” sticker on her mask — and had another one for her two-year-old son Bennett — said she wasn’t too worried about the mail, but, “It’s important just to do a dry run so the city gets it right in November.”
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