Aug 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

6 states sue USPS, say changes hurt efforts to hold "free and fair elections"

U.S. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy arrives for a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
U.S. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Six states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Friday, alleging recent changes to the U.S. Postal Service were "unlawful" and designed to impede efforts to conduct "free and fair elections."

Why it matters: DeJoy, an ally of President Trump, has come under scrutiny for implementing cost-saving measures that resulted in widespread delays and prompted fears that the USPS will not be able to handle a surge in mail-in ballots in November's election.

What it says: The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, alleges that recent USPS "operational and policy changes ... have led to significant delays in mail delivery across the country."

  • "These changes — which include prohibiting late or extra trips by postal workers that are often necessary to keep the mail moving forward in the mail stream; requiring carriers to adhere rigidly to start and stop times regardless of whether all mail for their route has arrived or been delivered; and limiting the use of overtime —were made without due regard to their likely impact on mail service and in violation of the procedural requirements of the Postal Reorganization Act," the lawsuit says.
  • The complaint mentions the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the USPS and the upcoming general election, saying many states "are already seeing record numbers of mail-in ballot requests."
  • "Defendants have abruptly and unlawfully impaired the operation of the postal services and have acted to cast doubt on the Postal Service’s ability to facilitate mail-in voting," the lawsuit, filed by attorneys general in California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, added.
  • In addition to DeJoy, the suit names the USPS and Robert Duncan, chairman of the USPS Board of Governors, as defendants.

The big picture: The lawsuit is the latest complaint filed against DeJoy.

  • At least 20 states have joined other lawsuits, per CBS.
  • Some complaints also name Trump, who has repeatedly made baseless claims that increased mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud, as a defendant.

The other side: DeJoy told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Friday that, "There has been no changes to any policies with regard to election mail."

  • "The Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail fully and on time," he added.
  • "We will scour every plant each night leading up to Election Day.”
  • Earlier this week, DeJoy said he would halt planned USPS changes to "avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail," but he did not commit to reversing the changes that have already been implemented.
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