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James says USPS slowdown ‘nothing more than voter suppression’, files lawsuit

Public Advocate Letitia James. (file)

Just a day after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the House Oversight Committee over the crisis at the U.S. Postal Service, state Attorney General Letitia James and New York City took the Trump administration to court, alleging that recent mail dysfunctions are a deliberate attempt at voter suppression. 

Since DeJoy was appointed over 70 days ago, mail drop-off boxes have been removed across the country and mail sorting machines have been taken out of commission across the country. DeJoy testified at Monday’s hearing that these reforms not be reversed ahead of the presidential election in November when an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots are expected to flood USPS facilities.

James slammed the USPS upheaval as “nothing more than a voter suppression tactic.”

“This time, these authoritarian actions are not only jeopardizing our democracy and fundamental right to vote but the immediate health and financial well-being of Americans across the nation,” James said. “We will do everything in our power to stop the president’s power grab and ensure every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot come November.”

At Monday’s hearing, DeJoy denied any allegations about attempts to damage the democratic process and placed blame on middle managers for the cutbacks in overtime.

DeJoy told congress members, including Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, that overtime and extra trips for deliveries have been cut, but would be reinstated for up to two weeks before Election Day. Despite this concession, DeJoy was not successful in convincing Democratic committee members that the scale-back efforts were independent of President Trump, who has made baseless accusations as mail-in voting posing as an opportunity for voter fraud.

The lawsuit, filed U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, includes James, New York City, and three other states as co-plaintiffs who are asking the court to halt any changes to USPS operations on grounds that they violate statutory and constitutional law. 

“Americans have a right to government institutions that fulfill their missions without any kind of bias,” New York City Corporation Counsel James E. Johnson said in a statement. “For decades, the U.S. Postal Service operated in such a manner. Until now. This is the people’s Post Office. The mail should not ship faster or slower based on one’s political affiliation or the political strategies of the occupant of the White House. Now, more than ever, New Yorkers are relying on the Post Office to be true to its motto and to deliver lifesaving medicine and election ballots. Lives and our democracy may depend on it.”

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