Sep 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

USPS operational changes temporarily blocked by federal judge

A driver wearing a face mask drives a USPS mail truck
A mail worker on Aug. 25 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked U.S. Postal Service changes that 14 states had alleged interfered with their authority to administer elections, AP reports.

Driving the news: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in August that he would halt USPS operational changes until after the 2020 election to "avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail," following widespread delivery delays and backlogs.

  • Yes, but: Some changes to the mail service still "remained in place" after DeJoy's announcement, per AP, and states including Wisconsin, Nevada and Michigan went to court to block them.

The big picture: States are expected to handle a massive number of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. The USPS alerted 46 states and Washington, D.C., at the end of July that it cannot ensure ballots sent by mail in the general election will arrive in time to be counted.

  • President Trump has long claimed, without evidence, that "universal" mail-in ballots will lead to a "rigged" election and massive voter fraud. He vowed in August to block stimulus funding for mail-in voting and the USPS.

What they're saying: "The states have demonstrated the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service,” Judge Stanley Bastian said Thursday, per AP.

  • Bastian also noted that the changes to the Postal Service initiated by DeJoy, a former Trump donor who was appointed in May, would create “a substantial possibility many voters will be disenfranchised.”

The other side: “While we are exploring our legal options, there should be no doubt that the Postal Service is ready and committed to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives," USPS spokesperson Dave Partenheimer said in an emailed statement.

  • “Any suggestion that there is a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service is completely and utterly without merit," Lee Moak, a Democratic appointee to the USPS board of governors and election mail committee chair said in a statement.
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