Just one day after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the House Oversight Committee about the crisis at the US Postal Service, New York State Attorney General Letitia James in tandem with the City of New York took the Trump administration to court, alleging that recent mail dysfunctions are a deliberate attempt at voter suppression.
Since DeJoy was appointed less than three months ago, mail drop-off boxes have been removed and mail sorting machines have been taken out of commission across the country. There have been widespread reports of unusual delays in mail service.
DeJoy testified at the August 24 hearing that what he terms “reforms” would not be reversed ahead of the presidential election in November when an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots are expected to flood USPS facilities.
Attorney General James slammed the USPS upheaval as “nothing more than a voter suppression tactic.”
“This time, these authoritarian actions are not only jeopardizing our democracy and fundamental right to vote but the immediate health and financial well-being of Americans across the nation,” James said, referring to the risk many voters feel about waiting in long voting lines in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. “We will do everything in our power to stop the president’s power grab and ensure every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot come November.”
At Monday’s hearing, DeJoy denied any allegations about attempts to damage the democratic process and placed blame on middle managers for the cutbacks in overtime.
DeJoy told members of the House committee, including Chair Carolyn Maloney of New York, that overtime and extra trips for deliveries have been cut, but would be reinstated for up to two weeks before Election Day. Despite this concession, DeJoy was not successful in convincing Democratic members of the committee that the scale-back efforts were independent of President Donald Trump, who has made baseless accusations that mail-in voting will lead to massive voter fraud.
Trump, appearing on Fox News several weeks ago, said he would oppose federal aid for the USPS as the slowdown would also slow the delivery and processing of mailed ballots. He later made apparent attempts to walk that comment back, saying he would concede to “some funding” for the cash-strapped, yet Constitutionally-required public service. At one point, he seemed to claim his earlier remarks about slowing the balloting process down were in jest.
The New York Times has reported that DeJoy and his wife have donated $1.2 million to the Trump campaign since 2016 and another $1.2 million to other Republican Party committees. According to filings with the Government Accountability Office, the couple hold investments of somewhere between 30.1 million and $75.3 million in companies that either contract with the Post Office or compete with it.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the District of Columbia, include the plaintiffs New York State represented by James, New York City, and two other states — New Jersey and Hawaii — as well as the City and County of San Francisco, as co-plaintiffs who are asking the court to halt changes to USPS operations they allege violate statutory and constitutional law.
“Americans have a right to government institutions that fulfill their missions without any kind of bias,” New York City Corporation Counsel James E. Johnson said in awritten statement. “For decades, the US Postal Service operated in such a manner. Until now. This is the people’s Post Office. The mail should not ship faster or slower based on one’s political affiliation or the political strategies of the occupant of the White House. Now, more than ever, New Yorkers are relying on the Post Office to be true to its motto and to deliver lifesaving medicine and election ballots. Lives and our democracy may depend on it.”
Citizens concerned about the damage being done to the Post Office can send letters voicing their concern to their senators and House representative by texting “USPS” to 50409, and then respond to the prompts given.
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