A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to rescind guidelines set earlier this year that limited late and extra trips to increase timely mail deliveries, especially election mail.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District Court for the District of Columbia, in an order issued on Oct. 27 (pdf), granted an emergency motion by plaintiffs against President Donald Trump to enforce Sullivan's previous injunction (pdf) that blocked Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from enforcing a USPS late and extra trips policy, which was blamed for reducing on-time delivery rates.
"USPS personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary to increase on-time mail deliveries, particularly for election mail," Sullivan wrote in the order. "To be clear, late and extra trips should be performed to the same or greater degree than they were performed prior to July 2020 when doing so would increase on-time mail deliveries."
Sullivan also ordered USPS to issue a notice to relevant postal service staff notifying them that "guidelines issued on July 14, 2020, by USPS Vice President of Logistics, Robert Cintron, regarding the use of late and extra trips are rescinded."
David Partenheimer, a spokesperson for USPS, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement: "With a record number of people across the country voting by mail, the U.S. Postal Service’s number one priority between now and the November election is the secure, timely delivery of the nation’s election mail.
"As the postmaster general previously announced, continuing through Nov. 24, we are deploying extraordinary measures—expedited handling, extra deliveries, and special pickups—consistent with practices used in past elections to accelerate the delivery of ballots to its intended destination.
"These measures are on top of additional resources the Postal Service has allocated throughout October, including, but not limited to, expanded processing procedures, extra transportation, extra delivery and collection trips, and overtime, to ensure that election mail reaches its intended destination in a timely manner."
Earlier in October, USPS agreed to reverse changes that were put in place to cut losses but resulted in a temporary slowdown in mail delivery, settling a lawsuit brought by the governor of Montana. The Postal Service agreed to reverse all changes, including overturning reduced retail hours, removal of collection boxes and mail sorting machines, closure or consolidation of mail processing facilities, restriction of late or extra trips for timely mail delivery, and banning or restricting overtime, with the changes applying to all states.
According to the most recent USPS service performance report, for the week of Oct. 10, the agency reported 85.58 percent of first class mail was delivered on time and 97.81 percent was delivered within two days of the service standard.
Retired postmaster Mark Jamison, in testimony in September in a lawsuit against the USPS, stated: "During this time of pandemic and facing one of the most important elections in the history of this nation it should be obvious to any reasonable individual that the postal network is an essential infrastructure that must be maintained."
"Meeting service goals, currently 96 percent on-time delivery for first class mail is critical," he stated. "The goal for election mail ought to be 100 percent—no one should accept that even 4 percent of legally cast ballots wouldn’t reach their destination on time (whether the local election standard is postmark or receipt by election authorities is germane)," he noted.
During an evidentiary hearing concerning the USPS's capacity to carry out on-time delivery of election mail in the November election, Jamison testified that in 2019, the Postal Service achieved a rate of 92 percent for two-day delivery, but under DeJoy the performance rate dropped to the high 70s to low 80s, according to Courthouse News.
Just six days ahead of Election Day, American voters have already cast a record-breaking 71.1 million early votes, according to a turnout tracker. This includes 47.8 million mail ballots and 23.3 million in-person votes.