Maryland Joins Multi-State Lawsuit Challenging Postal Service Cutbacks

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced today that Maryland is joining several states in filing a federal lawsuit challenging “drastic operational changes” at the U.S. Postal Service that “threaten critical mail delivery and could undermine the national election in November.”

The 14 states allege that President Donald Trump and his new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, implemented drastic changes to nationwide mail service unlawfully, and seek to stop the agency’s service reductions.

According to a press release:

The Postal Service cuts, including eliminating staff overtime, altering operations at state distribution centers, and removing critical mail sorting equipment, threaten the timely delivery of mail to individuals who rely on the Postal Service for everything from medical prescriptions to ballots.

“Trump attacks on the postal service are designed to disrupt the election. They strike at the core of our democracy,” said Attorney General Frosh. “That is bad enough, but Trump and DeJoy are also hurting innocent bystanders: Americans who are waiting for their medicine or their social security checks. This conduct is harmful, illegal and unconstitutional. We are filing suit to stop it.”

The changes at the Postal Service come as President Donald Trump has continued to baselessly claim that widespread vote-by-mail will lead to a fraudulent election.

Postal Service changes:

Recent changes at the Postal Service instituted by Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have already resulted in mail delays, Congressional leaders argue. Those changes include eliminating staff overtime, changing the way mail is sorted and requiring late-arriving mail to be left for delivery the following day. The Postal Service has also announced plans to stop processing outgoing mail at some state mail distribution centers. This would disproportionately impact rural communities, often significantly increasing the distance mail must travel. For example, mail sent from one address to another in the same town would have to travel all the way to one of the remaining distribution centers and back again before being delivered.

Vote-by-mail elections:

Many states require that ballots received on or before Election Day to be counted. President Trump stated that the service cuts at the Postal Service has a partisan motive: “They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess,” Trump said last week.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Larry Hogan last week approved an State Board of Elections (SBE) plan to designate each of Maryland’s 282 high schools as vote centers — places where any county resident can vote, regardless of their precinct — for the November 3 election.

On early voting days, approximately 80 vote centers will open statewide. On November 3, approximately 350 vote centers will be open statewide.

Voters may cast their ballot at any vote center in their county of residence. SBE also plans to make at least 127 ballot drop boxes available statewide.

Each registered voter who has not already requested a mail-in ballot will be mailed a mail-in ballot application. In the meantime, voters who know they want to vote-by-mail may request a mail-in ballot via SBE.

In order to receive a mail-in ballot for the general election, SBE must receive the request by October 20, 2020.

The Postal Service last month warned 46 states, including Maryland, that their deadlines for mail-in ballot requests may not provide ample time for ballots to be mailed to voters and returned to election officials in time to be counted on Election Day.

In addition to Maryland, the suit was joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced a complementary multistate lawsuit to be filed in Pennsylvania.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

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