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Barack Obama encouraged people to vote early and accused the Trump administration of an attempt at “suppressing the vote”, even as Donald Trump said he would consider additional funding for the US Postal Service amid a debate over mail-in ballots.

“Everyone depends on the USPS. Seniors for their Social Security, veterans for their prescriptions, small businesses trying to keep their doors open. They can’t be collateral damage for an administration more concerned with suppressing the vote than suppressing a virus,” the former president tweeted on Friday.

The comments followed similar accusations recently from Mr Obama and other Democrats in anticipation of higher than usual demand for absentee voting due to coronavirus. Louis DeJoy, the US postmaster general, said at a meeting last week of the US Postal Service’s board of governors: “The notion that I would ever make decisions concerning the Postal Service at the direction of the president, or anyone else in the administration, is wholly off-base.”

Mr Trump told reporters on Friday that he would be willing to approve a congressional proposal to send $25bn in funds to the Postal Service if Democrats agree to economic stimulus measures. Mr Trump referred to tweets he sent on Friday saying his administration would be ready to send another round of direct cheques to Americans and loans to small businesses, in addition to funds for state and local governments. Mr Trump said earlier this week he would also consider a separate bill to send money to the Postal Service.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, indicated on Friday that the state will mostly utilise mail-in voting in November by sending ballots to registered voters without requiring an absentee ballot application. Lawmakers in Nevada have passed a bill to automatically mail ballots to voters – a plan that drew a lawsuit from the Trump campaign.

Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said this week Americans should be able to safely vote in person.

“If you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing and don’t have a crowded situation, there’s no reason why you shouldn't be able to do that,” Dr Fauci said during a National Geographic event.

“I mean, obviously if you’re a person who is compromised physically or otherwise, you don’t want to take the chance. There’s the situation of mail-in voting that has been done for years in many places. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person or otherwise.”

Source : https://www.ft.com/content/5d826981-0659-3f62-9934-cd2c164448de

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