NEW YORK (NEWS10) — A coalition of states and cities from across the country filed a lawsuit Tuesday targeting changes at the U.S. Postal Service. A statement from the Office of New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, said the lawsuit is trying to stop “attempts to dismantle the USPS and disrupt operations in an effort to undermine the November presidential election.”
The suit names President Donald Trump, the USPS, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy as defendants. It comes following DeJoy’s congressional testimony, where he would not commit to reversing controversial policies at the post office.
The petitioners are asking the court to “vacate all the recent changes made by the USPS and halt the USPS from further implementing the changes on the grounds that they violate statutory and constitutional law.”
In the few weeks since his appointment to the role of postmaster general, DeJoy’s directives have “slowed mail operations across the nation,” according to the Office of the Attorney General. “This USPS slowdown is nothing more than a voter suppression tactic.”
Aside from operations that critics think are aimed at undermining the election process, the slowdown potentially threatens the lives of veterans or seniors relying on the mail to deliver medications, pensions, or checks.
“Millions of New Yorkers rely on our postal service to stay in touch with loved ones, to get their prescriptions on time, and to vote,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, who represents New York’s 20th Congressional District, about the lawsuit. “New York won’t stand by in the face of these baseless political attacks on our constitutionally protected right to vote.”
President Donald Trump has repeated a seemingly partisan desire to block delivery of mail-in ballots by hamstringing postal operations via outlets like Twitter:
The president’s concerns over the validity of mail-in ballots has also become a battleground between him and social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Both services stepped up efforts to combat “fake news” by labeling misinformation and disinformation, even when it comes from the White House. The president’s unverified claims about mail-in ballots leading to voter fraud have been marked as misleading by the tech companies in moves that have earned his ire.
For his part, DeJoy characterizes changes to the government agency—which has been an independent political entity for about 50 years—as necessary upgrades to increase efficiency throughout the country. Changes have included:
- Removing mail drop boxes on public streets
- Removing automated mail sorting machines from post offices
- Limiting hours for staff and operations
In New York, officials anticipate ten times as many mail-in or absentee ballots will be requested for 2020 as there were in 2016, even as the spread of the pandemic has slowed.