The states of New York, Hawaii and New Jersey filed a lawsuit Monday against President Donald Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the U.S. Postal Service over changes at the agency ahead of the election.
“The United States Postal Service has been thrown into chaos,” reads the federal lawsuit, which also lists New York City and San Francisco as plaintiffs. “Thanks to a series of sweeping policy changes beleaguered by partisan meddling, the independent agency has become a political football set to undermine a federal election.”
The states condemned the recent shifts in USPS operations under DeJoy as “triggering dramatic delays” and warned that the changes, “unless vacated or enjoined, will endanger state and local plans for the November election.”
The White House and USPS declined to comment.
DeJoy, a major political donor to Trump who took over at the USPS in mid-June, has implemented multiple changes in the name of cost-cutting, including reducing overtime, restricting extra mail trips and removing mail processing equipment. The agency took out hundreds of mailboxes and sorting machines.
After outrage from lawmakers over reported mail delays — particularly concerning ahead of the November election, in which millions of Americans will vote by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic — DeJoy said in mid-August that he would be suspending changes until after the election.
However, days later, DeJoy testified before Congress that the agency would not be reversing changes already made, including not replacing sorting machines that had been removed.
New York Attorney General Letitia James called out the mail “slowdown” as “nothing more than a voter suppression tactic,” adding: “We will do everything in our power to put a stop to the president’s power grab and ensure every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot come November.”
The states’ lawsuit contends that the “abrupt” changes to USPS operations go “beyond the agency’s authority under both federal law and the Constitution,” arguing that the agency was required to get an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission for such shifts in nationwide policy and that it has a duty to “give the highest consideration to the timely, efficient processing and delivery” of mail.
The lawsuit also condemns the Trump administration for “interfering” with states’ “constitutional duty to administer their own elections.”
Last week, David Williams, a former vice chairman of the USPS Board of Governors who resigned in April, told lawmakers that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been interfering with the agency’s operations.
With less than 70 days until the election, millions of people are set to vote by mail as casting ballots in-person poses health risks amid the pandemic. The U.S. continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, with over 5.7 million confirmed cases and more than 177,000 deaths so far.