WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Trump administration aimed at stopping what she said was an effort to disrupt operations at the U.S. Postal Service at a time when a pandemic has prompted millions more people than usual to plan to vote by mail.
The lawsuit – which names President Donald Trump, the postal service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy – asks the court to vacate recent changes made to the U.S. Postal Service and to stop it from implementing additional service reductions.
A planned overhaul of the post office, which is suffering deep financial shortfalls, has worried Democrats concerned that voters who want to avoid the new coronavirus will be prevented from casting ballots by mail because of potential delays in receiving voting materials or returning them.
U.S. Postmaster Louis DeJoy told lawmakers recently that he would resume some cost-cutting measures that have factored in widespread service delays after the Nov. 3 election.
“This USPS slowdown is nothing more than a voter suppression tactic,” James said in a statement, noting that medicines and other critical mail were also being delayed. “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.”
The lawsuit was filed by New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, New York City and San Francisco. Six states, led by Pennsylvania, sued the U.S. Postal Service and the new postmaster general on Aug. 21, saying service changes in recent weeks have harmed the ability of states to conduct free and fair elections.
The earlier lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, was joined by California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.
DeJoy, who has donated $2.7 million to President Donald Trump and other Republicans since 2016, has rejected charges that the changes stem from political interference. Trump has said repeatedly, without evidence, that absentee voting is unreliable, even though he has voted that way himself.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Dan Grebler)