MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The U.S. Postal Service is investigating a case of vandalism to one of its Memphis mailboxes.
At least one potential voter thinks it was done to send a message ahead of elections.
Tanya Dawson said when she went to the Whitehaven post office last Friday, the mailbox was taped shut, inaccessible to her and anyone else, and the area where the letters are collected was hanging open.
She said a postal service employee told her this has been happening a little more often recently.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service confirmed that it was, in fact, vandalism. They say they’re aware of the incident at the Whitehaven Post Office and are implementing additional methods to safeguard the mail.
They also say they “take the security of mail very seriously.”
But Dawson says she thinks someone did this to undermine that.
“I think the intent was, ‘Can I trust this box?’ We’ve trusted the post office all our lives. This is the last thing I need, to take a letter and not trust dropping it in the box,” she said.
It comes amid national controversy over funding of the U.S. Postal Service. Congressman Steve Cohen even talked about it Monday at Memphis City Hall.
According to new numbers from the Shelby County Election Commission, 19,440 voters requested absentee ballots through the mail in the primary election, but 307 of those arrived too late to be counted.
It’s not clear if any of those got held up by the mail issues that Congressman Cohen referenced, but this incident has opened Dawson’s eyes.
“It’s just time for we the people to get involved in democracy,” Dawson said. “It’s not just politics. There are people who rely on this mail for medicine, life-saving medicine.”
She’s now doing all she can to ensure everyone she knows can at least turn in a ballot.
New rules for absentee voting in Tennessee
Even if you voted absentee in the primary, you may not be able to in the general election. As result of a new court ruling, fears over COVID-19 are no longer a valid reason to register for an absentee ballot in Tennessee. If you are sick or hospitalize you can still request one.