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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

FOR THE WEEK OF SEP. 07, 2020

Postal Service’s larger role in elections during pandemic focuses attention on voting by mail

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Share a quote from news coverage of mail voting or Postal Service issues and tell why you pick it.
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Now find an opinion post about this topic (column, editorial, reader letter) and tell why you agree or disagree with the main point.
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Look for a politics article about your area or state. Why is it in the news?

Here's another odd situation in a year that's unusual in multiple ways: The U.S. Postal Service has a pivotal role in the presidential vote and other U.S. elections this fall, and there are serious concerns about its readiness. A glut of mailed ballots is ahead as pandemic fears mean tens of millions of people are expected to vote by mail rather than joining crowds lined up at polling places. Absentee ballots also can be dropped off at city and township offices, but many are likely to be mailed.

The president and some other Republicans are uneasy about mail voting. They claim it opens the way for potential abuses, such as fraudulent ballots, duplicate voting and other mischief. Though he votes by mail and plans to do so again this year, President Trump questions the integrity of postal ballots. "Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters. . . . They are fraudulent in many cases," he said Aug. 25 and the White House." The president recently acknowledged withholding emergency aid from the Postal Service to make it harder to process mail-in ballots, and his campaign lawyers challenge mail voting procedures in key states. Experts say mail voting fraud is extremely rare. Mail ballots have security barcodes and require signatures to be matched to a registration form. There have been 491 prosecutions in all U.S. nationwide elections from 2000-12, when billions of ballots were cast.

Trump implied last week that North Carolinians should test the system by trying to vote in person Nov. 3 even after mailing a ballot. State officials warned residents not to do that, saying in a statement: "Attempting to vote twice in an election or soliciting someone to do so is a violation of North Carolina law."

The expected surge in mailed ballots arises as Postal Service budget cuts create sorting and delivery delays. Complaints grew after Louis DeJoy, a major Trump campaign donor, became postmaster general in mid-June. Policy changes have included reduced overtime, removal of street collection boxes and sorting machines in some cities. "I am not engaged in sabotaging the election," DeJoy responded to Democratic lawmakers' questions at a six-hour House hearing late last month. The Postal Service chief said his agency is capable of processing this year's surge in mailed ballots.

Mail agency says: "The Postal Service has complete readiness to deliver any election mail that is presented to us, and we will do so in a timely and secure manner consistent with our longstanding processes and procedures." – David Partenheimer, spokesman

Democratic presidential campaign says: "The president of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon . . . because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years." -- Andrew Bates, spokesman for nominee Joe Biden

Columnist says: "If journalists don't keep the pressure on Postal Service problems, they will be abdicating their duty." – Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2020
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