One week from election day, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the DC District Court told the Postal Service to inform her staff that late and extra delivery trips are allowed and delivery of ballots within state deadlines is important. Sullivan’s order largely follows a proposed plan agreed by the USPS and those suing the Postal Service, which includes the NAACP and the Vote Forward group.
States and other groups had sought courts to monitor and enforce the decisions they won. Sullivan̵
According to the judge’s order, the postal service must now tell many of its employees “to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary to increase delivery of mail on time, especially to election mail.”
“To be clear, late and extra trips should be performed to the same or greater extent as they were performed before July 2020, when this would increase delivery of time to mail. Any previous communication incompatible with this instruction should be ignored, “the order continued.
The postal service declined to comment on the order except to say that delivery of ballot papers remains its highest priority.
Last week, the groups suing in Washington, DC, claimed that the postal service had not complied with the court rulings, and that delays and extra postal delivery journeys – which made it possible to deliver mail faster – were down from even July, when the postal service initially tried to counteract these ture.
“Given the defendants’ footsteps and lack of clearly reversed policy changes in July 2020, they cannot reasonably complain about the inconvenience of having to demonstrate that they comply with them,” NAACP lawyers told the judge last week. “There are less than two weeks until Election Day. Every day until then, hundreds of thousands of voters will seek to get and return their ballot. There is an urgent need for swift action.”
The postal service maintained in court that it had made it clear to employees that late and extra delivery trips were not prohibited. “The defendants have unquestionably complied with the Court’s rulings, which they take very seriously,” Justice Department lawyers representing the USPS had told the judge.
According to Sullivan’s order on Tuesday, the postal service must now provide daily updates to the court on postal delivery data, and lawyers from the administration appear daily before the judge.