Judge blocks US Post Office operational changes - But the block is temporary until a final ruling is issued

by Tom Cloyd - 2 min. read - (reviewed 2020-09-18: 0620 PDT)

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Stanley Bastian issued in Yakima, Washington Thursday afternoon a temporary order that blocks changes made recently by the US Post Office which could impair processing of mail-in ballots in the coming November election. He stipulated over a page of specific actions prohibited until a final ruling in the case is made.12

On this page…

Recent US Postal Service operational changes are temporarily blocked nationwide

Judge Bastian’s decision specifically requires that the Postal Service “stop instructing mail carriers to leave mail behind for a later date, halt their “leave behind” policy that requires delivery trucks to leave at a set time regardless of whether mail is ready, continue to treat all election mail as First Class mail regardless of paid postage, and replace dismantled mail sorting machines.2

The major threat to the American voter - disenfranchisement

Judge Bastian stated that the fundamental threat posed by these changes is “voter disenfranchisement”. A number of statements taken by President Trump and the Republican National Committee were cited to support the reality of this threat.3

Plaintiffs were fourteen states, led by Washington state Attorney General

The suit had been led by by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who alleged that drastic changes in postal operations had been initiated, and that the effect of these changes would surely be to impair mail delivery nationwide ahead of the election, resulting in delay of delivery of time-sensitive materials.1

There are several lawsuits in the courts addressing these recent changes. This ruling is the first made in any of the suits. Fourteen states, including Washington, had requested an injunction against a broad range of changes which had the potential for election process disruption. Judge Bastian agreed that this potential was real, and further stated that President Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy were engaged in a politically motivated attack on the US Postal system. He specifically stated that this attack was likely to disenfranchise many voters and disrupt timely and accurate counting of ballots, as has been stated in the state’s case. 1

Disruption of the US mail system is a documented fact, supported by two investigations

A US Senate special report, issued Wednesday of this week. The office of Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.) released a 38 page report which documents “misleading and incomplete” statements from the US Postal Service, statements contradicted by US Postal Service workers. It specifically documents delays in mail delivery, which appear to be increasing, and which are denied by the Postal Service. These delays are specifically tied to operational changes made in the Postal Service as directed by Postmaster General DeJoy. The delays are shown to have harmed Americans by delaying delivery of medications, by impacting small businesses negatively, and by impacting individual households.4

The New York Times has compiled data documenting substantial delays in first class mail delivery since July. In two detailed articles, the Times tells of obtaining and analyzing data from a firm that tracks mail delivery rates. These data show a clear decline in speed of delivery of mail beginning in July. Their mail delivery tracking study is ongoing - “we plan to continue tracking this data over the weeks to come.”56

  1. Viebeck, E. & Bogage, J. (2020-09-17). Federal judge temporarily blocks USPS operational changes amid concerns about mail slowdowns, election. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-judge-issues-temporary-injunction-against-usps-operational-changes-amid-concerns-about-mail-slowdowns/2020/09/17/34fb85a0-f91e-11ea-a275-1a2c2d36e1f1_story.html^ ^2 ^3

  2. Demkovich, L. (2020-09-17). Federal judge in Washington issues temporary injunction against USPS operational changes amid concerns about mail slowdowns. The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved from https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/sep/17/federal-judge-issues-temporary-injunction-against-/^ ^2

  3. Murphy, P.P. (2020-09-17). Federal judge temporarily blocks USPS policy changes nationwide. CNN Politics. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/17/politics/usps-policy-changes-injunction/index.html ^

  4. Office of US Senator Gary Peters. (2020-09-17). Failure to deliver: Harm caused by US Postmaster General DeJoy’s changes to the Postal Service mail delivery. Retrieved from https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/200916_FullReport_PetersPostalInvestigation.pdf^

  5. Badger, E. & Bui, Q. (2020-09-18). Has the Mail Really Slowed? We Wanted to Find Out. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/insider/mail-election.html^

  6. Badger, E., Bui, Q., & Sanger-Katz, M. (2020-09-14). Is the Mail Getting Slower? We’re Tracking It. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/14/upshot/is-the-mail-getting-slower-tracker.html^


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