Judge Orders DeJoy to “Step It Up” Prior to Election Day
One of the more contested issues of the 2020 election season may have just been finally settled thanks to a late decision on Tuesday made by a district judge in Washington, D.C. Beleaguered Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was ordered to immediately begin expanding mail delivery with extra trips and later deliveries after the U.S. Postal Service failed to improve performance less than a week before the election.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington late Tuesday granted an emergency request to enforce and monitor compliance with an earlier injunction he ordered. The ruling is a victory for civil rights groups and Democratic-led states that alleged in several lawsuits that the changes were undermining the election to the benefit of Donald Trump.
Mail delivery has taken on new urgency amid a surge in the use of mail-in ballots during the pandemic and Republican efforts to block ballots from being counted after Election Day, even if they’re mailed on time. And conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court signaled this week that any ballots counted after Election Day could lead to “charges of a rigged election.”
On-time delivery of first class mail dropped to 69.8% on Tuesday, down more than 6 percentage points from previous days, the USPS said in a court filing Wednesday. Judge Sullivan gave DeJoy until Thursday, just five days before Election Day, to distribute new guidance to USPS leadership across the country, with state-specific ballot-receipt deadlines, and to remind them of the need to “ensure that completed ballots reach the appropriate election official by the state’s designated deadline.”
“USPS personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary to increase on-time mail deliveries, particularly for election mail,” Sullivan said. “To be clear, late and extra trips should be performed to the same or greater degree than they were performed prior to July 2020 when doing so would increase on-time mail deliveries.”
A USPS spokesman said in a statement Wednesday that the Postal Service is complying with the court order and taking its legal obligations “very seriously.”