Published by LEVITTOWNNOW.COM
Summary generated on August 19, 2020
Pennsylvania will join other states in filing federal lawsuits regarding changes to the U.S. Postal Service.
During a press call on Tuesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the state will join with California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and North Carolina to challenge operational changes to the postal service that have drawn concern that the mail-in voting process could be adversely impacted.
Washington state will file a separate but overall similar action.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been criticized for new policies that have caused delays in mail delivery and raised worries.
The new postmaster general has defended his moves and cited they were implemented to cut costs for the agency.
DeJoy's cost-saving measures have called for holding late-arriving mail, slashing overtime, changing the executive structure, and altering mail processing, media reports have stated.
The new postmaster general has experience in the supply chain, project management, and real estate businesses but not with the postal service.
Critics of the DeJoy's plan have claimed President Donald Trump's administration has worked to suppress expanded vote-by-mail efforts during the pandemic by allowing cuts to the postal service.
The president has repeatedly made largely unfounded claims of widespread mail-in vote fraud as his campaign has faced unfavorable poll numbers.
The Keystone State's attorney general said the changes to the postal service's operations are being put in place without further thought.
"We will be taking action to reinstate Postal Service standards that all Americans depend on, whether it's for delivering their prescription drugs or for carrying their very right to vote," said Shapiro.
"Recent post office changes have been implemented recklessly, before checking the law, and we will use our authority to stop them and help ensure that every eligible ballot is counted."
Attorney General Shapiro's multi-state lawsuit will assert the Postal Service unlawfully implemented widespread changes to mail service nationwide.
The suit seeks to immediately reverse the agency's actions, and guarantee safeguards and standards for election mail.
Will assert that the Postal Service has 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 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.
Changes also impede States efforts to conduct free and fair elections, a right and authority granted to them by the Constitution.
Act 77 in Pennsylvania was passed, on a bipartisan basis, in October, 2019, and gives Pennsylvanians more time to register to vote and instituted no-excuse mail-in voting.
Actions to undermine the efficacy of the Postal Service also undermine States' ability to conduct elections in a manner their respective legislature has chosen.
The lawsuits seek to block the unlawful cuts and operational changes at the Postal Service.
Shapiro said letters, checks, and bills have arrived late to Pennsylvania households recently.
He noted that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs fills 80 percent of prescriptions through the mail, putting those residents at risk.
In the primary election, close to 1.5 million Pennsylvanians cast their ballots by mail, including a large number in Bucks County.
"With this imminent filing, we are putting the Administration on notice: immediately roll back these operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service and allow postal workers carry out their vital mission without interference - or lose to us in court," said Shapiro.
"And for the public, know that postal workers have long provided secure and reliable delivery of ballots. The important thing for you to do is vote. Vote early in person. Vote by mail. However, you choose to vote, we're here to make sure it counts."
As news of the multi-state plan to sue hit the press, DeJoy announced many of his cost-saving changes to operations were being suspended until after the November election.
"Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation's election mail on time and within our well-established service standards," he said in a statement.
"The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day."
Last week, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, a two-term Republican, signed a bipartisan letter expressing "Deep concerns" about the changes to the postal service, which operates a number of locations in the Levittown area.