WASHINGTON – Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was tasked to immediately expand mail delivery with additional travel and later deliveries after the U.S. Postal Service's performance had not improved less than a week before the election.
US District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington on Tuesday evening granted an emergency petition to enforce and monitor compliance with an earlier warrant he had ordered. The ruling is a victory for civil rights groups and democratically-led states who have claimed in several court cases that the changes undermined the election in favor of President Donald Trump.
"USPS personnel are being instructed to make late and extra travel as needed to increase on-time mail delivery, especially for election mail," Sullivan said. "To be clear, late and extra journeys should be done to the same or greater extent than before July 2020, if this would lead to more timely mail delivery."
Timely delivery of First Class mail fell to 69.8% on Tuesday, down more than 6 percentage points from previous days, the USPS said in a court filing Wednesday.
Mail delivery has taken on a new urgency with an increase in the use of mail-in ballots during the pandemic and Republican attempts to block the counting of ballots arriving after election day, even if they are sent on time. And conservative justices of the US Supreme Court said this week that counting ballots coming in after election day could lead to "allegations of falsified elections."
“DeJoy was unable or unwilling to recover what he broke within the Postal Service and get our mail delivery back to what it was before he started work,” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Democratic Chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, said in an emailed statement. "As serious delays in performance persist, especially in certain urban areas, I urge any American who has not yet voted to do so in person or by delivering their ballots to appropriately designated election offices or dropboxes."
Sullivan gave DeJoy until Thursday to direct the USPS leadership across the country with state-specific ballot deadlines and remind them to "ensure that completed ballots reach the correct election official within the state-set deadline. . "
Sullivan ordered DeJoy to issue a one-page notice advising managers to withdraw July's guidelines limiting the use of late and extra delivery rides. The USPS has argued that it complied with the earlier order and that data showing a sharp drop in overtime and late travel use had nothing to do with election mail. The judge said he wants to be informed daily by the USPS about the use of late travel.
USPS spokesman Dave Partenheimer said in a statement Wednesday that the postal service is complying with the injunction and taking its legal obligations "very seriously."
"We are taking extraordinary measures – expedited checkout, additional deliveries and special collections – in accordance with the practices used in previous elections to speed up ballot delivery to the intended destination," said Partenheimer.
. (tagsToTranslate) Election