Story and photos by Laura Brummett
Driving past the post office on Horner Boulevard Saturday morning, one could see a group of about 30 people decked out in red, white and blue. Many were waving signs. One woman donned a glittery American flag printed cowboy hat.
The group cheered as cars driving by constantly honked in support.
They were there to show their appreciation for the United States Postal Service.
The recent concern about the Postal Service began with changes enacted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in June, including cutting overtime and limiting post office hours. Workers said the changes were causing massive delivery delays.
Millions of Americans are planning to vote by mail in November due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and delays with the Postal Service could affect the election.
The Postal Service recently sent letters to over 40 states saying that ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted in the election. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is one of six state attorneys general suing the USPS regarding the potential delays.
CNN then reported a plan by the Postal Service to remove nearly 700 high-volume mail sorters from postal facilities across the country.
Lastly, images circulating around social media show blue mail boxes being removed across the country, limiting places people could potentially turn in ballots.
DeJoy, a Greensboro resident, is set to testify in front of the U.S. Senate on Friday regarding the recent controversy.
Maxine Mortensen, a Sanford resident, planned Saturday’s rally in just five days. She made the rally come to life by calling and emailing people she knew and asking for support. The Lee County Democratic Party and the Lee County NAACP along with moveon.org helped with the event.
Sanford resident and rally goer Bernadette Russell called what was happening “the rape of our democratic rights.”
She made her living in direct mail, and said that postal workers deserve respect and support.
Jennifer Garner, also a Sanford resident, said her step-dad is a veteran who has been experiencing delays in getting his medication through the mail.
“Honestly it’s sick and everyone should be outraged,” she said.
The rally featured speeches by judge and congressional candidate Pat Timmons-Goodson, state House hopeful Jason Cain, and state Senate candidate John Kirkman, who is also the chairman of the Lee County Democratic Party.
“I believe that the Postal Service brings life,” Timmons-Goodson said in an interview with The Rant. “Life in the form of medications that our veterans need, life in terms of the loving communications from family members that sustain us during this difficult time, life in terms of the checks that allow us to put the food on the table, and to pay rent. To me, the Postal Service means life. We cannot let it be destroyed.”
Cain told the crowd that North Carolina is going to be the first state to pass out ballots, starting September 4. He encouraged everyone to vote early to avoid the potential delays.
Aiden Vigus, a 16-year-old from Pittsboro, showed up to express his belief that stifling votes will unconstitutionally sway the election.
“It’s critical to make sure anyone who has the ability to vote can, because by living here that is your civic duty that is your responsibility,” Vigus said. “By oppressing anyone’s right to vote you are violating everything our country stands for. One step toward authoritarianism is one step too far because by violating our republic you are violating everyone that lives here.”
Bob Finch with the Lee County NAACP said the post office has been essential to American life since its inception.
“The confidence in our mailing system has been denigrated by our current leadership in the White House,” Finch said. “He’s saying the post office can’t do the job. They’ve done the job for over 2 centuries.”
During the rally, Mortensen had attendees sign a large “thank you” card for postal workers. She delivered the card to the workers inside the post office.
People also wrote cards in support of the USPS and the Heroes Act, and mailed them to Senator Thom Tillis.
Mortensen said she was happy with the turnout, and glad to see those present socially distancing and wearing masks. Event staff handed out extra masks and hand sanitizer to anyone in need.