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Attorney General Josh Stein Sues the Postmaster General and the U.S. Postal Service to Protect Mail Delivery and Free and Fair Elections

For Immediate Release:
Friday, August 21, 2020

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service, challenging that its recent unlawful actions undermine effective Postal Service operations and harm North Carolinians’ ability to vote by mail and conduct free and fair elections. The lawsuit seeks to reverse the Postal Service’s operational changes delaying mail delivery and to ensure that North Carolinians who vote by mail have their vote counted.

“The Postal Service is a foundational American institution, and one that is vital to our daily lives,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “The Postal Service is how we pay bills, get our medications, and conduct business. But we especially need the Postal Service to be delivering mail on time during a pandemic and weeks before an election that will see more North Carolinians voting by mail than ever before. The Postmaster General’s recent statements are not enough. We need binding commitments that restore the Postal Service’s operations. I will fight to ensure that the Postal Service is preserved and every North Carolinian’s vote is counted.”

The Postal Service is the nation’s oldest and largest public enterprise and a necessary part of communities throughout North Carolina. It serves as an engine for small businesses, especially those owned by women and minorities, allowing them to affordably conduct business via mail. 80 percent of all veterans’ medications are shipped through the Postal Service – and more prescriptions are shipped by mail than ever as a result of the pandemic. The Postal Service is a lifeline for rural North Carolinians who depend on the timely delivery of their mail for essential goods and to make and receive essential payments.

The attorneys general are challenging several recent operational and policy changes that have led to significant delays in mail delivery across the country. These changes, which have resulted in mail delays and pile-ups at multiple points in the mail delivery process, include:

  • Prohibiting late or extra trips by postal workers that are necessary to deliver mail on time.
  • Requiring carriers to adhere to start and stop times regardless of whether all the mail for their route has arrived or been delivered.
  • Limiting the use of overtime.

The Postal Service has implemented these changes weeks before the 2020 general election, during which more people will vote by mail than ever before to lower health risks during the coronavirus pandemic. The changes follow a longer effort by the Trump administration to undermine confidence in vote by mail and the results of the 2020 elections. In North Carolina, nearly 300,000 people have requested mail-in ballots, more than 10 times the number of requests submitted at this time in 2016.

Last week, the Postal Service notified many states, including North Carolina, that it could not guarantee delivery of ballots in accordance with state laws and deadlines. While Postmaster General Louis DeJoy claimed earlier this week that certain Postal Services initiatives would be suspended, he did not clarify which initiatives he was referring to. He also failed to clarify whether the Postal Service would now guarantee delivery of ballots.

The lawsuit alleges that the Postal Service and the Postmaster General violated the Postal Reorganization Act, the elections clause and the electors clause of the U.S. Constitution, and the 26th amendment of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees the right to vote.

Attorney General Stein is joined in filing this lawsuit by the Attorneys General of Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, and Massachusetts.

A copy of the complaint is available here.


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