During the midst of a pandemic and a presidential election cycle, when prompt mail delivery matters more than ever, the Postal Service has made significant changes that have resulted in unreliable service and widespread delays. On July 10, 2020, the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, announced a major operational “Pivot,” which imposes significant new restrictions on the timing and nature of letter carrier routes. In so doing, he acknowledged that employees would “see mail left behind or on the workroom floor or docks” as a result. In the month since, there have been substantial delays in mail service across the nation, with entire towns in rural areas not receiving their mail on certain days and people in some cities going days or weeks without receiving any mail at all. These delays have caused Americans to go without medicines and benefits, and they have prevented eligible Americans from voting by mail in their primary elections. In addition, in late July 2020, the Postal Service sent letters to 46 states warning them of a mismatch between their deadlines related to mail-in voting and the Postal Service’s likely delivery times. In these letters, the Postal Service made clear that ballots sent by marketing mail would not be accorded first-class mail treatment, and thus take longer to deliver, even though the Postal Service had previously trained its employees to give first-class treatment to ballots and other election-related materials sent as marketing mail.
Public Citizen, representing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and co-counseling with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, filed suit to require the Postal Service to suspend these changes, to restore prompt and reliable mail delivery, and to ensure that mail-in ballots are accorded priority status, as they have been in past years. On September 1, 2020, we filed a motion for a preliminary injunction.