OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is leading a coalition of states filing a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday challenging the operational changes within the U.S. Postal Service.
The lawsuit asserts that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy implemented changes to USPS "unlawfully."
The lawsuit seeks to stop service reductions caused by eliminating staff overtime, stopping outgoing mail processing at state distribution centers, and removing mail sorting equipment. All of which, according to the lawsuit, threatens the "timely delivery of mail to millions of Americans" relying on USPS for "everything from medical prescriptions to ballots."
However, after Ferguson unveiled the lawsuit, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday that he would delay certain changes until after the election to "avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail." Those changes include retaining retail hours at post offices and keeping mail-processing equipment and boxes in places. No facilities will be closed, and overtime will be approved “as needed.”
During the official announcement of the lawsuit, Ferguson said the delay in changes was an indication that the coalition has "already had some success." Though they are not declaring victory.
Ferguson said some "harm" has already been done by cuts to the postal service, but the worst may still be ahead.
According to the lawsuit, DeJoy was implementing a plan to halt processing outgoing mail at three of Washington state's five distribution centers: Tacoma, Wenatchee and Yakima.
“For partisan gain, President Trump is attempting to destroy a critical institution that is essential for millions of Americans,” Ferguson said. “We rely on the Postal Service for our Social Security benefits, prescriptions — and exercising our right to vote. Our coalition will fight to protect the Postal Service and uphold the rule of law in federal court.”
Due to the changes at USPS, the postal service previously warned states it could not guarantee that all ballots cast by mail for the Nov. 3 General Election will arrive on time to be counted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mail ballots as a way to vote without risking exposure to coronavirus at the polls.
However, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said ballot delivery and return services should continue without "significant delay or interruption this fall."
Wyman said they are "confident in our partnership with the U.S. Postal Service and its ability to continue delivering the same outstanding service to voters, the Office of the Secretary of State, and Washington’s 39 county election officials."