By Tom Ozimek
President Donald Trump, The U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Friday appealed a federal judge’s ruling suspending service changes at USPS and rushing the delivery of ballots prior to the Nov. 3 presidential election, according to the Justice Department.
The appeal pertains to a pair of preliminary injunction orders issued in late September by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who directed the USPS to take “extraordinary measures” to ensure that millions of ballots were delivered by mail. According to a follow-up order issued by Sullivan on Nov. 1 (pdf), the Postal Service had to provide for “every ballot possible” to be delivered “by the cutoff time on Election Day” and ensure that “all ballots with a local destination must be cleared and processed on the same day or no later than the next morning for delivery to local offices, from now through at least Nov. 7.”
Sullivan’s order also called for the USPS to apply a legible postmark to every ballot reflecting the date it was collected, with the USPS required to postmark all ballots, even those without postage.
The USPS issued a memo on Oct. 30 outlining numerous extra measures it was taking to deliver ballots, including running extra deliveries and collections, arranging early collections, and providing after-hours handoffs with boards of elections. The USPS also designated employees to serve as “ballot monitors” to oversee postmarking and to “ensure all processes are being adhered to properly with a goal to minimize any missed postmarks on ballots.”
It was not immediately clear what impact the appeal would have at this late stage, given that the final deadlines for accepting ballots by mail for the Nov. 3 election had passed.
The White House, Justice Department, and USPS did not immediately comment late Friday.
Sullivan, in an order issued on Oct. 27 (pdf), granted an emergency motion by plaintiffs against Trump to enforce Sullivan’s previous injunction (pdf) that blocked DeJoy from enforcing a USPS late and extra trips policy, which was blamed for reducing on-time delivery rates.
“USPS personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary to increase on-time mail deliveries, particularly for election mail,” Sullivan wrote in the order. “To be clear, late and extra trips should be performed to the same or greater degree than they were performed prior to July 2020 when doing so would increase on-time mail deliveries.”
Sullivan also ordered USPS to issue a notice to relevant postal service staff notifying them that “guidelines issued on July 14, 2020, by USPS Vice President of Logistics, Robert Cintron, regarding the use of late and extra trips are rescinded.”
Following Sullivan’s Oct. 27 order, David Partenheimer, a spokesperson for USPS, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement: “As the postmaster general previously announced, continuing through Nov. 24, we are deploying extraordinary measures—expedited handling, extra deliveries, and special pickups—consistent with practices used in past elections to accelerate the delivery of ballots to its intended destination.
“These measures are on top of additional resources the Postal Service has allocated throughout October, including, but not limited to, expanded processing procedures, extra transportation, extra delivery and collection trips, and overtime, to ensure that election mail reaches its intended destination in a timely manner.”
Earlier in October, USPS agreed to reverse changes that were put in place to cut losses but resulted in a temporary slowdown in mail delivery, settling a lawsuit brought by the governor of Montana. The Postal Service agreed to reverse all changes, including overturning reduced retail hours, removal of collection boxes and mail sorting machines, closure or consolidation of mail processing facilities, restriction of late or extra trips for timely mail delivery, and banning or restricting overtime, with the changes applying to all states.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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