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.

Go deeper

Trump casts ballot in Florida ahead of massive campaign weekend

President Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump cast his ballot in Florida on Saturday ahead of a jam-packed weekend of campaigning just 10 days ahead of the general election.

The big picture: Trump registered as a Florida voter in 2018, citing his Mar-a-Lago residence. His in-person vote comes amid a massive uptick in mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Trump argues mail-in voting is typically unsafe and ripe for fraud.

19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Texas Supreme Court stays order blocking limits on ballot drop-off sites

A sign is seen at drive-through mail ballot drop off site at NRG Stadium in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura/Getty Images

The Texas Supreme Court on Saturday temporarily stayed an order by the lower court that blocked Gov. Greg Abbott's limits on drop-off locations for mail-in ballots.

Why it matters: The move means voters will continue to be restricted to a single drop-off location per county for now. The state's Supreme Court gave both sides until Monday at 5 p.m. CDT to file responses as it considers whether to take up the issue. By then, there will be just over one week until the election.

Updated Oct 20, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on America's voting barriers

On Tuesday, October 23, Axios' Sara Kehaulani Goo, Margaret Talev, and Alexi McCammond hosted a virtual event on barriers to voting access across the country, featuring Southwest Voter Registration Education Project President Lydia Camarillo, U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chairman Benjamin Hovland, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition President Desmond Meade and "The West Wing" actors Janel Moloney and Richard Schiff.

Benjamin Hovland unpacked how to vote safely during this unprecedented year and highlighted the uptick in mail-in ballots and early voting.

  • On a notable increase in early ballots being cast: "We're seeing a surge in early in-person voting...We're already at around 30 million Americans that have already voted in the 2020 election, which is pretty remarkable."
  • On the impact of the pandemic on mail-in ballots: "About 25% of Americans vote by mail in a normal year, or in 2016. So we're going to see an increase probably closer to half."

Lydia Camarillo discussed the importance of the Latino electorate in American elections.

  • The impact on November's election: "I think that the Latino electorate can be the deciding factor in this election — in partnership with other groups like the Black community, the Muslim community, Asian American community and progressives. They will decide the election."

Desmond Meade, who helped lead the 2018 fight for Amendment 4 in Florida, unpacked the expansion of voting rights and Florida's impact on similar state-level policy changes across the country.

  • On restoring felon rights: "This thing has caught on like a wildfire. All across this country, people are really standing up. Because America is a nation of second chances. And it's showing up right now in a major way."

Janel Moloney and Richard Schiff discussed the recent "The West Wing" episode on HBO Max and the experience of reuniting as an ensemble cast.

  • Richard Schiff on the meaning of the episode: "It's a rare thing in this day and age around the world to have the privilege to vote and the right to vote. And we should be very careful to not let it be extinguished and that this episode addresses that."

Axios Vice President of Event Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top segment with Lyft Head of Policy Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Heather Foster who discussed how transportation plays a critical role in voting access.

  • "We took a look at the statistics that came out of 2016, and it was estimated at the time that more than 15 million eligible voters did not go to the polls because they lacked a way to get there."

This event was the first in a yearlong series called Hard Truths, where we'll be discussing the wide ranging impact of systemic racism in America. Read our deep dive on race and voting here.

Thank you Lyft for sponsoring this event.