A federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to reverse limitations on mail collection imposed by Trump-backed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, requiring the agency to inform workers of the court’s highly detailed mandate as mail-in ballots flood the system.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District Court for the District of Columbia granted an emergency motion against President Donald Trump to enforce and monitor compliance with a previous injunction barring the U.S. Postal Service from making service reductions ahead of the November presidential election.
U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh in Pennsylvania, Sullivan and other judges in Washington State and New York have issued similar orders since the Postal Service restricted late trips by trucks and letter carriers and instituted overtime restrictions intended to prevent timely ballot deliveries.
Sullivan ruled that the Postal Service “knew that prohibiting these trips would result in delayed mail delivery.”
Courts have also ordered the Postal Service to treat all election mail as first-class or priority mail express.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the changes slowed delivery of mail across the country as part of a plan to bolster Trump’s unsupported claims about ballot integrity.
“The court has spoken. It’s time for President Trump to follow the law and stop interfering with our mail,” said Becerra, who charged that DeJoy’s “changes put the sanctity of free and fair elections at risk across the country and have resulted in direct harms to the states and their residents.”
Early voting, both by mail and in person, topped 70 million on Tuesday, more than half of the total turnout in the 2016 election, according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida.
Americans are casting ballots by mail in record numbers to avoid exposure to the coronavirus but after conspiring to slow mail operations, Trump has been saying it would be “inappropriate” to allow extra time to count tens of millions of ballots that are delivered late due to post office delays.
Trump has repeatedly and without evidence suggested that an increase in mail voting will lead to an increase in fraud, although election experts say that is rare in U.S. elections.
Voting by mail is a long-standing feature of American elections, and about one in four ballots was cast that way in 2016.
Trump, who trails in national opinion polls, and his Republican allies are trying to limit the time and opportunities voters have to send in ballots in a series of court battles across the United States.
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