In a new Thursday ruling, D.C. Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to restore high-speed mail sorting machines at postal facilities unable to appropriately handle election-related mail in the final days before Election Day. There’s been a nationwide rush to get ballots to and from voters amidst concerns about in-person voting due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, there’s also been a slowdown in some mail delivery in the wake of operations changes that the Trump-allied Postmaster General Louis DeJoy imposed, whose operations updates included the removal of some sorting machines. DeJoy has faced intense public pressure over his pre-election changes to Postal Service operations.
Sullivan’s latest order follows an earlier order in which he demanded that DeJoy’s changes be put on hold before Election Day. The Postal Service had claimed that Sullivan’s original order was not clear enough, which apparently gave them an excuse to not comply with it appropriately. Now, Sullivan wrote that at postal facilities where election-related mail can’t be processed appropriately before Election Day, “available processing equipment will be restored to service to ensure that the Postal Service can comply with its prior policy of delivering Election Mail in accordance with First Class delivery standards.”
Sullivan has also ordered a status update from the Postal Service covering their compliance efforts by Friday at 5 P.M., and besides the order for the restoration of mail sorting machines as appropriate, the Postal Service has also been ordered to take whatever additional steps are needed in order to ensure the timely delivery of election mail.
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) led the lawsuit against the Postal Service changes that has culminated in this pair of rulings from Sullivan. The states of Hawaii and New Jersey and cities of San Francisco and New York City were also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, while other states participated in their own separate suits. In response to the latest order from Sullivan, James commented:
‘For a month now, the Trump Administration has made excuse after excuse to avoid compliance with a court order, all in an effort to further undermine Postal Service operations and impede voters wishing to vote by mail in the November elections. Today’s order makes abundantly clear that the Trump Administration must stop violating the law and must deliver all ballots immediately.’
DeJoy has been accused of carrying out Trump’s political agenda with his changes to the Postal Service’s operations, although he has — unsurprisingly — denied the claims.