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Press Release

AG Shapiro Seeks Immediate Halt to Illegal Service Changes At Postal Service

September 3, 2020 | Topic: Peoples AG

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of seven states seeking an immediate halt to illegal changes the United States Postal Service put in place that prevent Postal workers from effectively delivering the mail.

The motion for a preliminary injunction, filed in a multistate action with the Attorneys General from California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maine, and North Carolina, says USPS’ actions from July 2020 have led to significant delays, harmed veterans, seniors and rural communities, and could disrupt the November election without court intervention.

“Postmaster General DeJoy’s promises to suspend new initiatives that slowed down the mail have been proven false. We need the court to step in and stop changes that have prevented postal workers from doing their jobs,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Postmaster General DeJoy overhauled the Postal Service without consulting the experts, and without letting the public weigh in. The changes slowed down the mail, as even the Postmaster General admitted in his own testimony to Congress last week. Veterans, seniors, business owners, and everyday Pennsylvanians rely on the Postal Service during this ongoing health pandemic, and with an election looming, we need court oversight to ensure everyone has full faith in the Postal Service at this critical time.”

The preliminary injunction filing says the Postmaster General is required to submit proposed changes to the Postal Regulatory Commission before they take effect. Since this legally mandated process was not followed, these changes should be stopped until further review.

“Rather than acknowledge their mistake, defendants have left the misguided policies in place and insisted that they were not required to seek an opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission,” the motion for the preliminary injunction says. “They were—and their failure to do so was unlawful.”

As documented in the preliminary injunction, our office has seen proven slow downs in mail service. Examples of the negative impact of the Postmaster General’s illegal actions include:

  • In Pennsylvania, a former teacher who was a recent heart transplant patient had to wait 10 days to receive an order form in the mail for a blood draw despite the form coming from the same city she lived in.
  • A small business owner in Pennsylvania recently sent a furloughed employee her last paycheck by first-class mail, but more than three weeks later the check had still not been delivered.
  • A California small business owner who sells goods through an online marketplace had nine shipments delayed by an average of six days since July, leading to over a thousand dollars in extra costs and harm to her business reputation.
  • A Delaware child could not take his prescribed medicine for several days in August because the mail-order prescriptions that typically had been delivered within three days of shipment took a week to deliver.

With November’s election just two months away, our office is also concerned about these changes’ impact on an election in which an unprecedented number of Americans will vote by mail during an unprecedented global health crisis. Nearly 1.5 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail in Pennsylvania’s 2020 primary election, the first election to take place since the passage of Act 77 , which instituted no-excuse mail-in voting. For seniors and individuals with disabilities or pre-existing conditions, access to mail-in ballots is particularly important for this upcoming election while States contend with the ongoing pandemic.

“We must ensure everyone has confidence in our elections and that every eligible vote will be delivered and counted this fall,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Our job is to protect and secure your ballot and your right to vote; the job of citizens is to use that power and vote this fall.”

The Postal Service notified many states, including Pennsylvania, that it could not guarantee delivery of ballots in accordance with state laws and deadlines. In response to this change by the Postal Service, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf filed a motion in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court asking the Court to extend the deadline to receive eligible ballots to Friday, Nov. 6. Pennsylvania had previously passed Act 77 on a bipartisan basis to expand early and mail-in voting.

“Defendants’ actions have and will continue to delay the mail, undermine the States’ residents’ confidence in the reliability and security of voting by mail, and, ultimately, disenfranchise voters in the States if they are not enjoined. For those reasons, the balance of the equities and the public interest favor restoring the status quo until this matter may be resolved finally by the Court,” the motion says.

A copy of the Pennsylvania-led motion is here.

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