A federal judge in Washington state on Thursday temporarily blocked operational changes that new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is making to the struggling U.S. Postal Service (USPS), claiming plaintiffs in a lawsuit will likely succeed.
A coalition of states filed a lawsuit this month seeking to block the changes, claiming they unlawfully interfered with states’ authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to manage their own elections.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Allen Bastian, an Obama-appointee, sided with the states, ruling they established a likelihood of success.
“Although not necessarily apparent on the surface, at the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement,” Bastian wrote in his 13-page ruling. “This is evident in President Trump’s highly partisan words and tweets, the actual impact of the changes on primary elections that resulted in uncounted ballots, and recent attempts and lawsuits by the Republican National Committee and President Trump’s campaign to stop the States’ efforts to bypass the Postal Service by utilizing ballot drop boxes, as well as the timing of the changes.”
“It is easy to conclude that the recent Postal Services’ changes is an intentional effort on the part the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections, especially given that 72% of the decommissioned high speed mail sorting machines that were decommissioned were located in counties where Hillary Clinton [received] the most votes in 2016.”
Clinton lost to Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Bastian also said the widespread pushback by Democrats at a local, state, and federal level “suggest that the Postal Service’s actions are not the result of any legitimate business concerns,” adding: “DeJoy’s actions fly in the face of Congress’s intent to insulate the management of the Postal Service from partisan politics and political influence and acknowledgement that free and fair elections depend on a reliable mail service.”
In an emailed statement to The Epoch Times, a USPS spokesperson said the service is exploring its legal options.
“There should be no doubt that the Postal Service is ready and committed to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives. Our number one priority is to deliver election mail on-time,” he added.
Lee Moak, the election mail committee chair for the USPS Board of Governors, added: “Any suggestion that there is a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service is completely and utterly without merit.”
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan, a Democrat who is one of the plaintiffs in the suit, welcomed the ruling.
“We need our Postal Service to be fully operational for the General Election,” Donovan said in a statement. “I am pleased with the Court’s ruling. The stakes in this case are too high.”
The ruling came just one day after a congressional report found that the cost-saving measures that originally caused a slowdown in mail delivery were beginning to be incorporated into the system, with on-time delivery rebounding from 10 percent below to 2.7 percent below the average levels seen before the start of DeJoy’s tenure.
Some of the changes were already in motion prior to DeJoy’s arrival. He ordered trucks to run on schedule, which resulted in mail pile-ups as the rest of the system adjusted. That part of the system also recovered. On-time transportation had increased to 97 percent from 89 percent by late August, according to a fact sheet from the USPS.
“Getting trucks running on time created a temporary dip in delivery, which we previously acknowledged. That dip is now largely gone,” USPS spokesman David Partenheimer wrote in an email to The Epoch Times.
DeJoy’s ordered changes included mandating operations meet a 24-hour clock commitment, requiring all trips leave on time, abolishing extra trips, and making carriers start on time, leave for the street on time, and return on time.
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.