• Mon. Mar 8th, 2021

In Latest Legal Rebuke, Court Orders Postal Service to Prioritize Mail-In Voting

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in New York on Monday ordered the Postal Service to reverse operational changes that have slowed mail delivery in recent months and to prioritize election mail, the latest legal rebuke to Louis DeJoy’s management of the agency.

By Friday, Judge Victor Marrero said in his ruling, the Postal Service must begin treating all election mail, including ballots, as first-class or priority mail; preapprove all overtime requested from Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, the peak times for election mail; and submit a plan to restore on-time delivery of mail to its highest level this year.

“The right to vote is too vital a value in our democracy to be left in a state of suspense in the minds of voters weeks before a presidential election, raising doubts as to whether their votes will ultimately be counted,” Judge Marrero said.

The order came in response to a lawsuit that mail-in voters from six states brought against President Trump and Mr. DeJoy, the postmaster general. The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, sought to block cuts that Mr. DeJoy had put in place just months before the election in November.

Seventeen plaintiffs from California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Wisconsin and New York asked the court to declare that Mr. Trump and Mr. DeJoy, the Republican megadonor and presidential ally installed this year to lead the Postal Service, had violated voters’ rights by scaling back operations in an effort to stymie mail-in voting.

In June, union officials received a notice that Postal Service management was removing 671 machines used to sort mail quickly because of a “reduction to letter and flat mail volume.” In July, the agency sent employees a memo banning additional daily trips beyond their initial runs in an effort to save about $200 million.

Judge Marrero also ordered Mr. DeJoy to reverse that ban and to provide the court with a weekly update of the Postal Service’s progress in improving mail delivery.

.css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-1wxds7f{margin-bottom:10px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:0.875rem;line-height:1.25rem;color:#333 !important;}.css-rqynmc{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.9375rem;line-height:1.25rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-rqynmc{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-rqynmc strong{font-weight:600;}.css-rqynmc em{font-style:italic;}.css-1dvfdxo{margin:10px auto 0px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.5625rem;color:#121212;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1dvfdxo{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}.css-16ed7iq{width:100%;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;padding:10px 0;background-color:white;}.css-pmm6ed{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;}.css-pmm6ed > :not(:first-child){margin-left:5px;}.css-5gimkt{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:0.8125rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-letter-spacing:0.03em;-moz-letter-spacing:0.03em;-ms-letter-spacing:0.03em;letter-spacing:0.03em;text-transform:uppercase;color:#333;}.css-5gimkt:after{content:’Collapse’;}.css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-eb027h{max-height:5000px;-webkit-transition:max-height 0.5s ease;transition:max-height 0.5s ease;}.css-6mllg9{-webkit-transition:all 0.5s ease;transition:all 0.5s ease;position:relative;opacity:0;}.css-6mllg9:before{content:”;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg,transparent,#ffffff);background-image:-webkit-linear-gradient(270deg,rgba(255,255,255,0),#ffffff);height:80px;width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;pointer-events:none;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}.css-yscdpa{background-color:white;margin:30px 0;padding:0 20px;max-width:510px;}.css-yscdpa strong{font-weight:700;}.css-yscdpa em{font-style:italic;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-yscdpa{margin:40px auto;}}.css-yscdpa:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}.css-yscdpa a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;border-bottom:2px solid #ccd9e3;}.css-yscdpa a:visited{color:#333;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;border-bottom:2px solid #ddd;}.css-yscdpa a:hover{border-bottom:none;}.css-yscdpa[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-yscdpa[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-yscdpa[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-yscdpa[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-a8d9oz{border-top:5px solid #121212;border-bottom:2px solid #121212;margin:0 auto;padding:5px 0 0;overflow:hidden;}

The order came after courts in two states issued rulings last week that could expand mail-in voting.

In Pennsylvania, the State Supreme Court paved the way for more mail-in ballots to be counted by extending the date by which election officials must receive them and allowing the expanded use of drop boxes.

In Washington State, a federal judge blocked Mr. DeJoy’s operational and policy changes, issuing a nationwide injunction to force the Postal Service to reverse them.

Among the plaintiffs in the New York case were prominent Democrats in the state, including Mondaire Jones, a progressive congressional candidate running to represent the suburban 17th District, and Alessandra Biaggi, a state senator.

They are represented by J. Remy Green and Ali Najmi, who recently convinced a federal judge in Manhattan that thousands of absentee ballots missing postmarks in the state must be counted.

“This national injunction will ensure the integrity of the election,” Mr. Najmi said.

A spokeswoman for the Postal Service said the agency was reviewing the judge’s decision and was focusing on successfully carrying out the election.

“There should be no doubt, however, that the Postal Service is ready and fully committed to handling expected increased volumes of election mail between now and the conclusion of the Nov. 3. election,” the spokeswoman, Martha Johnson, said in a statement. “Our No. 1 priority is to deliver the nation’s election mail securely and in a timely fashion.”