Federal judge blocks US Postal Service changes blamed for mail slowdown

A federal judge on Thursday blocked controversial changes within the US Postal Service that have been blamed for a nationwide mail slowdown ahead of the November election, where a record number of mail-in ballots are predicted.

Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, said he would grant a request for a preliminary injunction sought by 14 states that sued the Trump administration and the USPS.

“The states have demonstrated the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service,” Bastian said.

“They have also demonstrated that this attack on the postal service is likely to irreparably harm the states’ ability to administer the 2020 general election.”

The 14 states, led by Washington, feared that delays might result in voters not receiving ballots or registration forms in time, as many more people are expected to vote by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They asked the court to immediately halt the USPS’ so-called “leave behind” policy, where trucks have been taking off from facilities on time regardless of whether there’s more mail to load.

The states also sought to force the agency to treat election mail as First Class mail; that mail-sorting machines that were removed be replaced; and for the postal service to abide to Postmaster General DeJoy’s promise to suspend the recent changes until after the election.

A lawyer for USPS and the other defendants, including President Trump and DeJoy, argued in court that the agency is prepared to handle the mass of election mail and that delays from the summer have subsided.

With Post wires