A group of voters has sued President Donald Trump, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, claiming that the agency’s latest cost-cutting changes are infringing on citizens’ rights to vote.
DeJoy has since announced that USPS would suspend all operational changes until after the election.
“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” he said in a statement on Aug. 18.
Four voters from different states on Aug. 17 filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia, in an effort to restore the operation of the Postal Service to its status on Jan. 1. The voters accuse Trump and DeJoy of conspiring to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election by crippling the agency’s operations ahead of the 2020 elections.
They alleged that the Trump administration engaged in “outrageous tactics to slow down mail delivery,” which they claimed had resulted in the failure of the prompt delivery of mail-in ballots and applications, according to their complaint. The plaintiffs did, however, acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic had already posed challenges to the Postal Service but claimed that the Trump administration had exacerbated the delays via its alleged tactics.
“Despite the devastating effects of the coronavirus on USPS’s ability to deliver the mail during the Spring primaries and primary runoffs, and the thousands of USPS employees who were quarantined because they were exposed to and, in some cases, contracted, coronavirus, DeJoy has taken several steps calculated to slow down—and to undermine—the agency’s ability to deliver the mail, all in the name of cost-cutting but at the expense of the right of citizens to vote,” the voters’ attorneys wrote (pdf).
The outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus during an election year thrust the issue of mail-in voting into the spotlight as large numbers of Americans are predicted to vote by mail in order to avoid crowds at polling locations. Yet, concerns over whether the USPS would be able to deliver mail-in ballots on time became a center of attention after the agency’s general counsel and executive vice president, Thomas J. Marshall, sent letters to multiple states warning them that it might not be able to meet mail-in deadlines.
Meanwhile, DeJoy announced on Aug. 7 sweeping changes to the leadership structure of the organization, as part of efforts “to operate in a more efficient and effective manner and better serve customers” amid concerns over the financial position of the agency.
He said the financial position of USPS is “dire” and without “dramatic change,” the agency will “face an impending liquidity crisis.” His changes resulted in at least 20 postal executives reassigned to new roles or displaced. These cost-cutting measures have reportedly resulted in mail backlogs across the country, further elevating worries that ballots won’t be delivered in time for the November election.
The lawyers said in the complaint that the four voters residing in New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Indiana, are examples of those who didn’t get mail-in ballots in time for their states’ primaries, despite requesting absentee ballots.
They also alleged that the USPS situation is forcing voters to go to polling stations to vote during the pandemic.
In one example, Gina Arfi, the resident from New York state, was unable to vote in the state’s June 23 primary election because the absentee ballot she requested was never delivered, and she didn’t want to risk exposing herself and her 85-year-old grandmother, who she lives with, to COVID-19.
The voters are asking the court to reinstate Postal Service operations to how it was on Jan. 1, including replacing or restoring high-speed sorting machines that have been taken out of service, restoring overtime pay for all USPS employees, and lifting the USPS hiring freeze.
The voters are not the only group who have taken legal action against the USPS amidst concerns about mail-in voting. Meanwhile, a separate group of voters and several Democratic candidates also filed a lawsuit on Aug. 17 in a federal court in New York.
USPS’s decision to implement cost-cutting measures just months ahead of the election has been widely criticized, and has prompted House Democrats to urge the FBI to begin an investigation to determine whether DeJoy, or members of the USPS board of governors, committed any crimes in connection with reports of mail delays.
DeJoy is set to testify at a House Oversight Committee hearing next week, House lawmakers confirmed on Aug. 17. A number of Democratic members of Congress have called on DeJoy to resign, with one member even going so far as to say that he should be arrested by the House’s sergeant at arms if he doesn’t testify.
Officials at the Justice Department and the USPS didn’t immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.