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Groups Sue Postmaster General over USPS Changes

UPDATE: Plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction was denied on October 29, 2020. After many attempts, the parties in the case were unable to reach a settlement. However, other settled litigation positively impacts many of the provisions that LWV and its partners requested from the court.  

US Postal Service Leaders Must Restore Voter Faith in Mail System 

GREENBELT, MD—Late Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of the United States, the National Urban League, and Common Cause filed a lawsuit against the Postmaster General and United States Postal Service asserting that recent changes to postal service procedures and equipment presents an undue burden on fundamental right to vote, infringes on voters’ free speech rights, and violates the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). 

The Postmaster General issued an announcement on Tuesday that the agency would suspend certain “operational initiatives” until after the election, though it did not offer many details. Many questions remain as to whether this suspension of initiatives covers the most concerning changes already made, such as the removal of hundreds of mail sorting machines and the treatment and timeframe for delivery of election-related mail. Furthermore, the erosion of trust and major delays that resulted from the changes to procedures and equipment remain. 

“The League supports the US Postal Service, one of our country's oldest and most trusted agencies. Yet, even with the supposed suspension of changes to USPS’s system, the damage has already been done,” said Virginia Kase, CEO of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “The distrust has been sown. Voters are left confused and uncertain as they navigate how to vote safely during a pandemic. We must not allow the proposed changes to USPS to be implemented, for this election or any future election. We must restore voters’ faith in our mail system.” 

The lawsuit, National Urban League, et al v. DeJoy, defendants intentionally made changes that would undermine the upcoming election. The lawsuit requests the court to weigh in on whether the U.S. Constitution was violated, restrict future action by the Postmaster General to implement nationwide changes to the mail system without proper oversight, and take immediate steps to mitigate the damage caused by these changes.

“As a century-old organization, the League understands the importance of being a credible and trusted beacon for American communities. The shenanigans that postal workers and USPS agency officials have had to endure are shameful,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel and senior director of advocacy and litigation at the League of Women Voters of the United States. “The taint of the Postmaster General’s flippant changes will not be removed until a clear plan is outlined detailing how the agency will mitigate the damage done and establish transparency. Only then will trust begin to be restored for millions of individuals who rely on the vital services that the US Postal Service provides.”  

The League and its partners are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Arnold & Porter LLC. 

“As the Senate Intelligence Committee report released today reveals, the team surrounding President Trump has pushed the boundaries of voter suppression and interference in unprecedented ways,” Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “We are determined that the Constitutionally-established institutions of our government will not be twisted into service of the President’s reelection campaign, and we will not abandon those who depend upon the Postal Service for life-sustaining deliveries.” 

“The drastic and disruptive changes to the Postal Service by the Trump administration have been an attack on every American’s right to vote and their First Amendment right to free speech - and they must be rolled back definitively with more than just a press release,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “These efforts to undermine the effectiveness of the Postal Service under President Trump must ALL be rescinded. In the midst of a pandemic we need to know that ballot applications and ballots will be delivered in a timely manner so that every American will be able to make their voice heard on Election Day without having to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote.” 

“Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has wreaked havoc across the country with reckless policies intended to disrupt the timely delivery of mail just weeks in advance of a general election,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Without question, DeJoy is weaponizing the United States Postal Service (USPS) to disenfranchise Americans who choose to vote by mail amid an unprecedented pandemic gripping the nation. We are filing this lawsuit to stop actions that were adopted unlawfully and that were intended to cause delays intended to disrupt the November election. DeJoy’s statement vowing to suspend changes rings hollow in the absence of remedial action taken to address the damage that his actions have caused.” 

“There is nothing more precious in the Constitution than the sacred right to vote, and the law will not and cannot stand idly by when that right is infringed for political purposes,” said Kenneth Chernof, partner at Arnold & Porter. 

Voters are strongly encouraged to act early with their voting plan this year, whether it involves voting by mail or voting in person. VOTE411.org has timely updates and information related to voting options in all 50 states and DC.

Read the complaint here.

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CONTACT: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]