Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

In Latest Legal Rebuke, Court Orders Postal Service to Prioritize Mail-In Voting

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in New York on Monday ordered the Postal Service to reverse operational changes that have slowed mail delivery in recent months and to prioritize election mail, the latest legal rebuke to Louis DeJoy’s management of the agency.

By Friday, Judge Victor Marrero said in his ruling, the Postal Service must begin treating all election mail, including ballots, as first-class or priority mail; preapprove all overtime requested from Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, the peak times for election mail; and submit a plan to restore on-time delivery of mail to its highest level this year.

“The right to vote is too vital a value in our democracy to be left in a state of suspense in the minds of voters weeks before a presidential election, raising doubts as to whether their votes will ultimately be counted,” Judge Marrero said.

The order came in response to a lawsuit that mail-in voters from six states brought against President Trump and Mr. DeJoy, the postmaster general. The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, sought to block cuts that Mr. DeJoy had put in place just months before the election in November.

Seventeen plaintiffs from California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Wisconsin and New York asked the court to declare that Mr. Trump and Mr. DeJoy, the Republican megadonor and presidential ally installed this year to lead the Postal Service, had violated voters’ rights by scaling back operations in an effort to stymie mail-in voting.

In June, union officials received a notice that Postal Service management was removing 671 machines used to sort mail quickly because of a “reduction to letter and flat mail volume.” In July, the agency sent employees a memo banning additional daily trips beyond their initial runs in an effort to save about $200 million.

Judge Marrero also ordered Mr. DeJoy to reverse that ban and to provide the court with a weekly update of the Postal Service’s progress in improving mail delivery.

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