Federal judge issues temporary block on new service changes to USPS

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"The states have demonstrated the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service", Bastian said, adding that the changes created "a substantial possibility many voters will be disenfranchised".

With Bastian's decision, the USPS must stop instructing mail carriers to leave mail behind for a later date, halt their "leave behind" policy that requires delivery trucks to leave at a set time regardless of whether mail is ready, continue to treat all election mail as First Class mail regardless of paid postage, and replace dismantled mail sorting machines.

The states also asked for all election mail be treated as first-class mail, for the replacement of necessary sorting machines that had been removed, and for the postal service to abide by DeJoy's commitment to suspend the changes until after the November 3 election.

US President Donald Trump's administration has been accused of seeking to undermine the Postal Service in a bid to aid his reelection, raising fears that ballots sent by mail might not arrive in time.

But other changes remained in place, and the states - including the battlegrounds of Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada - asked the court to block them.

"Because the Postal Service plays such a vital role, Congress has long required that any significant change in postal services undergo a thorough review9 by the Postal Regulatory Commission and include an opportunity for public10 comment before taking effect", the September 9 filing notes.

The judge's order will honor a request from 14 states to temporarily roll back a recent, sweeping and highly controversial series of changes at the USPS that are believed to have caused a drastic slowdown in mail sorting and delivery throughout the country.

The ruling comes as some Americans are beginning to receive their mail-in ballots and cast their votes for this November's presidential election. This particular effort, the plaintiffs claim, is particularly egregious in light of the ongoing pandemic and the surge in vote-by-mail likely to occur during the upcoming election.

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"Today's victory protects a critical institution for our country", Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson said after the ruling.

Attorney Joseph Borson, who represented the defendants, said the postal service was prepared to timely deliver election mail and that the problems have largely been resolved.

"[Mail pileups] likely will slow down delivery of ballots, both to the voters and back to the states" Bastian said.

They also noted some of the effects the changes had already wrought: MI spent $2 million earlier this year on envelopes that met election mail standards - only to learn that the Postal Service wouldn't treat them as first class mail.

Further, they cited research from information technology consultant Mynor Urizar-Hunter, who helped start a website tracking the USPS changes, noting that 78% of the machines slated for removal were in counties won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Pennsylvania is one of a handful of important swing states that both parties consider crucial to winning this year's election.

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