Postal chief says he will suspend efficiency measures viewed as threat to mail-in voting
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced Tuesday that Delaware and other statesare suing the United States Postal Service. over widely reported slowdowns in mail delivery.
Jennings and the state’s congressional delegation held a press conference to announce the move.
Amid news that 20 states were filing suit, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that efficiency efforts would cease until after the election. Signs of the Postal Service backing down came last week when it was announced that what appeared to be widespread removals of the familiar blue mailboxes would be suspended.
“Every American depends on the mail, and millions of people are being harmed because of political sabotage writ large,” said Attorney General Jennings. “You don’t have to take my word for it: the president made clear on national TV that he’s trying to prevent afairelection. In any other era, under any other administration, it would be unthinkable to appoint a megadonor to deliberately break one of America’s oldest public services — but corruption has become the new normal. I’m not standing for it, and neither are my fellow Attorneys General.”
Republicans have claimed the crisis was manufactured by Democrats as a campaign issue and that the current Postmaster General is actually trying to improve the level of service. They also cite the large losses suffered by the Postal Service.
President Donald Trump has continued to claim that mail-in voting is loaded with voter fraud possibilities. Democrats say Trump and the Postmaster-General, a major Trump donor, are attempting to cripple the Postal Service in an effort to discourage mail-in voting.
“The fact that these slowdowns are happening during a pandemic and right before an election during which a record number of Americans plan to vote by mail – and all while the President bashes mail-in voting – is more than enough to raise eyebrows,” said U.S.Sen. Tom Carper (D).“I’ve also heard from Delawareans up and down our state who are frustrated that they are not receiving their regular mail, including prescription medications, paychecks and letters, in a timely way. That’s why I’m proud that, thanks to Attorney General Jennings, Delaware is joining the fight and working to stop what appear to be blatantly partisan practices.”
The suit asserts that the USPS is in violation of 39 U.S.C.§3661, which mandates thatthe USPS submitany planned changesthat will affect service on a substantially nationwide basisto the Postal Regulatory Commissionfor review and a hearing.
Jennings and other AGs are suing the Postal Service for infringing Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. The suit seeks a writ of mandamus ordering the USPS to submit to the Postal Regulatory Commission a proposal for any substantially nationwide service changes, an injunction prohibiting the USPS from implementing these operational changes, facility closures, or equipment removals, and an order directing the USPS to maintain the status quo before its unlawful actions, a release stated.
Complaints about postal disruptions have sharply increased in recent months. Carper’s said his office has seen the proportion of constituent casework dealing with Postal Service complaintsincrease by 20 times the normal rate, and has received whistleblower complaints from current postal workers regarding service delays and delivery issues.
For example, Delawareansin the city of New Castle have reported not receiving mail for upwards of six days. A local postmaster responded to the complaints by citing recent policy changes implemented by U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. DeJoy implemented changes including bans on overtime and on extra trips to complete mail delivery.
In another example, aDelaware letter carrier has reported that Priority Mail packages and First Class mail are intentionally being left behind and not delivered due to the policy changes. Another letter carrier reports that over the last month letter carriers have been instructed to leave routes, sometimes leaving behind hundreds of deliveries per day to be delivered later.
Delaware residents, including the elderly, have reported prescription medication delays as long as 20 days and missed dosages, a release from the AG’s office stated.
USPS is also reported to have removed mail processing machines from postal sorting and distribution facilities around the country, including the only such facility in Delaware, raising concerns about Delaware’s ability to process a surge in vote-by-mail volume. More than 50,000 Delawareans voted by mail in July’s presidential primary, compared to 5,046 in the 2016 presidential primary.