A second federal judge ruled Monday (Sept. 21) that election mail must be prioritized by the U.S. Postal Service, but West Virginia University Law Professor Matthew Titolo, an expert on American legal history and public-private contracts, says it’s unclear if operational changes enacted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy can be reversed in time to speed up the mail before Election Day Nov. 3.
“In the short term, this lawsuit is really about the integrity of the 2020 election, which is only a few weeks away. Some items in the injunction should be easier to enforce and monitor. For example, ensuring adequate overtime to handle election mail, ending the ‘leave-behind’ policy and ensuring that election mail is granted first-class mail status. However, it's unclear whether there's enough time before Election Day to reverse the other changes made over the summer, especially reinstalling the hundreds of mail-sorting machines that DeJoy removed. It does raise the possibility of contempt charges for DeJoy should he disregard the injunction. At this point though, Congress, the states and the federal judiciary have increased the pressure on DeJoy and raised the visibility of this issue before the American public.”
“Attorneys general from 14 states have filed suit in federal court challenging several of USPS’s recent operational and policy changes, which have led to significant delays in mail delivery across the country. Under governing law, the USPS is required to notify the public and hold hearings before it can make large changes to the postal system that will affect service. The USPS did not solicit public input before making service cuts this summer, thus denying the general public a voice in the process.”
“The lawsuit’s key allegation is that recent cuts at the USPS will undermine mail-in voting this November. It also points to President Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting which he said would lead to ‘levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.’ As the lawsuit points out, states are now moving to mail-in voting for every election. Thus, it is more important than ever that the USPS remain a non-partisan organization that serves the general public by ensuring the integrity of elections.” – Matthew Titolo, professor, WVU College of Law
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