Gloria Jean Matzig plans to vote in the presidential elections this year by casting an absentee ballot from Germany, where she has lived for more than 30 years. It will be her 10th time voting by mail.
That is, as she says, “if all goes well”.
The 72-year-old independent voter was born in Pineville, Kentucky, and has moved around quite a bit over the years. Her family moved to 20 different suburbs by the time she was in fourth grade, before eventually settling in Fairborn, Ohio, when they could afford a house. Her father, like nearly everyone else in the neighborhood, worked for General Motors, while her mom worked in the cafeteria at her local high school.
After two marriages and having spent several chapters of her life living in a variety of cities across the country, including everywhere from Denver in Colorado to Burlington in Vermont, Matzig settled down with her significant other, who she has been with since 1988, in Aachen, Germany.
“I’ll probably die in Germany because the health insurance in America is out of my financial reach,” she says.
As a young wife, Matzig registered as a Republican under her first husband’s influence, she says, before she switched to become an independent voter. She has voted for both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – each time relying on both the German and the American postal systems.
“My ballots were delivered safely and securely every time,” she says.
This year, Matzig says she’s “extremely concerned” about newly announced changes to the US Postal Service (USPS). We spoke shortly after Donald Trump appointed a new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a major Republican donor with zero experience in the postal service. DeJoy has announced sweeping changes to the USPS ahead of the November vote, including cutting overtime hours for many employees and withholding mail if local post offices are understaffed.
“DeJoy has recently set some new procedures in place which I’m sure are designed – and maybe even were proposed by [Trump’s] White House staff – to slow down delivery of the US mail,” Matzig says, “thereby endangering the entire American election process.”
She plans to support former vice president Joe Biden in his bid to unseat Trump, citing the Republican incumbent’s “bad leadership, mismanagement... and despicable personality traits” displayed throughout his tenure in the Oval Office. But she worries about the safety of voting under Trump, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has already killed more than 165,000 Americans and appears to be worsening in some states.
Matzig says the alleged “deliberate slow down caused by new procedures and budget limits” set by DeJoy “could sabotage our November election by slowing deliveries and then calling ballots too late to be counted”.
But the independent voter also worries about other issues she sees as having been exacerbated under Trump, from the tariff war with China to GOP-led attacks on healthcare access for millions of Americans.
Matzig was upset about the president’s staged photo opportunity amid peaceful protests in Washington DC earlier this year, in which she says Trump used “religion as a political tool” after an incident of “teargassing and forcibly removing peaceful protesters by federal agents”.
Still, she says, perhaps above all, her main concern is ensuring every American has a safe and secure way to vote come November.
“It has never before in the entire history of the USA been more important than it is now for Americans to be allowed to vote by mailing in their ballots to their local boards of election,” she says. “Even in times of the two world wars, people were always able to safely send in their votes – from our overseas military personnel, and American expats everywhere, for instance.”
Matzig concludes: “Because of the extreme danger of contracting the virus, all Americans need to be able to rely on the United States Postal Service and voting by mail.”