States weigh lawsuits against Trump administration over Postal Service changes

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Washington — In the wake of cost-cutting shifts to the U.S. Postal Service that has led to widespread delays in mail delivery, several states are weighing legal action against the Trump administration that would prevent the agency from making operational changes in the run-up to the November election.

Michael Kelly, chief of staff to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, confirmed to CBS News that Herring’s office has spoken with attorneys general from several other states about potential legal options.

Herring said in a statement that state officials will ensure all votes are counted in November, whether they are cast by mail or in person.

“My colleagues and I are working as we speak to determine what Trump and DeJoy are doing, whether they have already violated or are likely to violate any laws, and what tools we have at our disposal to put a stop to President Trump’s ongoing attack on our postal service and our democracy,” he said.

States and federal officials are rushing to shore up the Postal Service after its new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a GOP donor and ally of President Trump, implemented a series of operational changes designed to bring the cash-strapped agency from the brink of bankruptcy. In addition to reorganizing the Postal Service’s top ranks, DeJoy has curbed overtime and prohibited postal workers from making extra trips for late-arriving mail, leading to mail delivery delays and a backlog of letters and parcels.

The delays stemming from DeJoy’s operational shifts come as many states are expanding vote-by-mail for the November election in an effort to protect voters during the coronavirus pandemic. But Mr. Trump has spent the last few weeks attacking mail-in voting, claiming with little evidence that it invites voter fraud. 

While the House passed in May a coronavirus relief package that would provide the Postal Service with $25 billion, and a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation to provide the agency with the same injection of cash, discussions between Democratic leaders and the White House on a larger coronavirus relief measure have stalled.

Last week, the president acknowledged that starving the Postal Service of additional federal assistance would hurt efforts to expand vote-by-mail, but he then appeared to walk back the suggestion he opposes an injection of aid to the struggling agency.

In anticipation of the flood of mail-in ballots expected for the November election, the Postal Service warned 46 states that mail-in ballots may not be counted in time because their provisions for voting by mail are “incongruous” with post office delivery standards.

Concerned that millions of Americans could be disenfranchised by late-arriving ballots, Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress have demanded that DeJoy and Robert Duncan, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, answer questions from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next week about the agency’s new policies.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also summoned lawmakers back to Washington early for a special session to vote on legislation that would prevent the Postal Service from continuing with the changes to its operations.



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