States ask judge to reverse changes at US Postal Service

Full Screen
1 / 3

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

FILE - In this April 2, 2020 file photo, a United States Postal Service worker makes a delivery with gloves and a mask in Warren, Mich. A group of states suing over service cuts at the U.S. Postal Service is asking a federal judge to immediately undo some of them, saying the integrity of the upcoming election is at stake.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya,File)

SEATTLE – A group of states suing over service cuts at the U.S. Postal Service is asking a federal judge to immediately undo some of them, saying the integrity of the upcoming election is at stake.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has already said he's halting some of the changes, including the removal of distinctive blue mailboxes and of sorting machines at some processing facilities.

However, two remain in effect, the states argue, noting the Postal Service is no longer treating election mail as the equivalent of first class mail, and the so-called “leave behind” policy requires that postal trucks leave at certain times, whether or not there is additional mail to load.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Yakima, Washington, late Wednesday, the 14 states — including the election battlegrounds of Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin — said mail delays have eased since the service cuts first created a national uproar in July, but on-time deliveries remain well below their prior levels, meaning millions of pieces of mail that would otherwise arrive on-time no longer are.

That's troubling as millions more voters are expected to vote by mail this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the states said.

The states, led by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, asked Judge Stanley A. Bastian to order the Postal Service to treat election mail, including ballots and registration forms, as first class mail, ensuring it is delivered promptly; end the “leave behind” policy; and replace or reinstall any removed sorting machines needed to ensure timely processing.

In a declaration filed along with the motion, information technology consultant Mynor Urizar-Hunter, who helped start a website tracking the USPS changes, noted that 78% of the machines slated for removal were in counties won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“Despite overwhelming evidence of the safety and security of mail-in voting, President Trump has waged a months-long crusade to undermine mail-in voting,” the states wrote. “The changes at issue escalate this crusade by creating a substantial likelihood that the states will not be able to deliver, receive, and tally ballots cast in time to be counted.”