As Mail Delays Continue, Attorney General Tong and State Attorneys General Seek Court Order to Protect USPS Operations(Hartford, CT) – As mail delays continue, Attorney General William Tong joined a multistate coalition of attorneys general seeking a court order to block operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the November election.
“Mail delays have not stopped despite disingenuous and vague assurances from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. We have firsthand reports from postal service workers that overtime has not been restored. Mail sorting machines remain disassembled in parking lots. There is no plan to ensure that election mail is treated as it has always been—as First Class mail. We are seeking a court order to protect postal service operations ahead of the November election. Every vote must count this November,” said Attorney General Tong.
The motion, filed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, asks the court to block continued enforcement of unlawful policy changes unilaterally imposed in July by Postmaster General and Trump megadonor Louis DeJoy, including:
- Orders instructing mail carriers to leave behind mail;
- Orders requiring mail carriers and delivery trucks to leave at set times of the day regardless of whether mail is ready;
- Restrictions on return trips to distribution centers; and
- Deviation from long-standing USPS policy to treat election mail as First Class mail, regardless of postage
The motion asks the court to hold DeJoy accountable for his August 18 commitment to suspend service changes, including blocking any further removal or decommissioning of sorting machines, reduction of hours, and closing of processing centers.
Further, if a facility is unable to process election mail as First Class mail due to the removal of equipment, the multistate coalition seeks a court order requiring replacement, reassembly or reconnection of such equipment. The multistate coalition seeks a court order requiring any such requests from local facilities to be reported to the court within three days. Should any such request be denied by USPS, the multistate coalition asks that the court be given the ability to order replacement if such action is deemed necessary to the processing of election mail as First Class mail.
The motion for preliminary injunction includes declarations from Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, and Joan Levy, president of the Greater Connecticut Area Local No. 237 of the American Postal Workers Union.
In her declaration, Levy states she has “never seen the kinds of sorting and delivery delays and mail backlogs that are now routine in post offices across Connecticut.” She states she has seen two mail processing machines disassembled and out of service on the floor of the Wallingford processing center, as well as four disassembled machines in the parking lot of the Hartford facility. Overtime continues to be curtailed, she notes. Paychecks for her union members that once took two days to arrive now take a full week.
In her declaration, Secretary Merrill notes she expects “record-breaking” mail-in voting for the November election, exceeding the number of ballots received for the August primaries. Merrill notes that Connecticut received a letter from USPS General Counsel Thomas Marshall on July 31, warning that completed mail-in ballots sent by First Class Mail must be sent by Tuesday, October 27 in order to be received in time for the November 3 election. “To my knowledge, USPS has never before warned Connecticut that USPS will take seven days to deliver in-state, First-Class, election mail,” Merrill notes. “I am deeply concerned that, without decisive action, mail delays may deprive some Connecticut residents of the right to vote in the 2020 General Election,” she states.
The states’ lawsuit, led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, asserts that the Postal Service acted outside of its authority to implement changes to the postal system, and did not follow the proper procedures required by federal law.
Changes at the U.S. Postal Service that cause a nationwide impact in mail service must be submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The commission then evaluates the proposal through a procedure that includes public notice and comment. The Postal Service’s sudden and unilateral changes to the nature of postal services deprived the States of their procedural right to comment on such changes prior to implementation as established by federal law.
Washington and Connecticut are joined by Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.