As postal boxes are being removed from New York City and a Trump donor is implementing drastic changes to the postal service, many are worried about what this means for mail-in voting during the upcoming election.
On Aug. 17 Biaggi and NY-17 Congressional Candidate Mondaire Jones filed a lawsuit against the president, the USPS and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants had violated the constitution and demanded that the court grant an injunction and take all steps necessary to ensure that the USPS is adequately funded so that there are no policies preventing the delivery of election mail, provide sufficient staff and overtime and treat mail in ballots as equal to in-person ballots.
“Amid a global, once-in-a-century pandemic, USPS has become all the more important to the basic functioning of our economy: with the risks of gathering voters in one place, indoors, to wait online and all touch the same election machinery, most states have expanded vote by mail alternatives to keep their citizens safe,” the lawsuit stated. “Against this background, President Donald J. Trump and his newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have set about to ensure USPS cannot reliably deliver election mail.”
With the election just two and half months away, the need for mail-in voting is crucial due to COVID-19.
“Changing the quality of USPS services in the middle of this election cycle will predictably and irreparably harm everyone involved, to say nothing of the damage it will cause to the integrity of the election itself,” the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit pointed out that all Americans should be able to cast their ballot to vote no matter where they are. In fact, for the NYC June 23 Primary, the USPS delivered 30,000 absentee ballots to the Board of Elections.
However, recent changes by DeJoy have caused an outrage throughout the country. These changes include:
- keeping the mail for the next day if plants run late
- eliminating USPS overtime
- allowing carriers to only four “park points” where a letter carrier parks a truck, delivers some amount of mail on foot and then returns to the truck on their routes
- requiring carriers to return from their mail routes on time even if they have not finished their deliveries
- a USPS hiring freeze and a new program called “Expedited to Street/Afternoon Sortation,” which sends letter carriers out to deliver mail quicker in the morning prohibiting them from sorting before they go
These new rules will drastically impact the incoming election, as an unprecedented 76 percent of Americans can vote by mail. However, since the filing of the lawsuit, DeJoy announced these changes will not take place until after the election.
Postal workers and their unions have expressed concerns.
“These are changes aimed at changing the entire culture of the USPS,” said the National President of the Postal Workers Union Mark Dimondstein. “The culture I grew up with and generations before me is that you never leave mail behind.”
Furthermore, these regulations break with past USPS practices in implementing changes, where in the past it consulted unions and industry groups prior to making changes.
In fact, according to the lawsuit, the USPS has removed or destroyed 671 sorting machines across the country since June and plans to get rid of more by the end of the year.
As of Aug. 14, the USPS capacity to sort mail has been reduced by more than 21.4 million pieces of mail per hour.
President Trump has also been involved in the process. Trump’s Deputy Campaign Manager Justin Clark said “The president views vote by mail as a threat to the election.”