Delaware’s vote by mail law upheld in Chancery Court

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Pennsylvania judge orders Postal Service to halt service changes

Court rulings on Monday upheld Delaware’s temporary vote-by-mail law and ordered the US Postal Service to halt service changes that have been blamed for a mail slowdown.

“I’m grateful to the judges in these cases who ruled for the people and for the rule of law,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “It’s unfortunate that we need to fight to defend basic rights and public services at all, but Delawareans’ constitutional rights are in the balance and we will continue to stand up to anyone who would try to undermine the public’s access to vital services—especially in the midst of a global pandemic.”

One ruling, issued by Delaware Court of Chancery on Mondaynight, denied the Republican State Committee of Delaware’s motion for summary judgment seeking permanent injunctive relief.

The Republican State Committee sought to declare Delaware’s temporary vote-by-mail law unconstitutional. Jennings argued on behalf of the State in Thursday’s hearing. The law allows the state to send ballots to the registered voters. Republicans wanted voters to request absentee ballots.

Click to access republican-state-committee-v.-state-of-delaware.memorandum-opinion-rsc-v.-de.pdf

The Chancery ruling had been expected, given the temporary nature of the current law and the potential disruption that would have been caused by a reversal. Vote by mail has been in effect in a number of states.

Late Monday morning, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued an87-page opinionand anordersiding with Delaware and other plaintiffs who sought to stop disruptive policies implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Delaware’s complaint cited several specific and serious consequences of the marked decline in postal services that resulted from DeJoy’s changes.

The Court’s opinion notes:

“It is … curious, at a minimum, that a major initiative would be implemented, in the middle of a public health crisis, four months before a national election where mail-in voting is expected to increase dramatically. Depending on how one views the range of conclusions that can be drawn from the evidence, it might even be considered reckless. Regardless, for the reasons set forth below, it is unlawful.”

The Court’s preliminary injunction prohibits the USPS from continuing operational changes implemented by DeJoy—including work hours reduction targets, penalty overtime, and manager approval requirements for work hours and overtime—until the USPS presents such changes to the Postal Regulatory Commission and obtains an advisory opinion following a public hearing as prescribed by federal law.

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