The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) agreed on Oct. 14 to reverse changes that were put in motion to cut losses but resulted in a temporary slowdown in mail delivery, settling a lawsuit brought by the governor of Montana.
The lawsuit, filed by Gov. Steve Bullock (D) against the USPS and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Sept. 9, argued that changes implemented in June harmed access to mail services in Montana, resulting in delayed delivery of medical prescriptions, payments, and job applications, and impeding the ability of Montana residents to vote by mail.
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. This applies to all states.
The agreement also requires the Postal Service to prioritize election mail.
The settlement agreement was reached a day ahead of a hearing in the U.S. District Court in Great Falls.
“Montanans never gave up this fight and as a result, we are ensuring stability through and beyond the election by immediately restoring the mail services folks rely on, whether it’s receiving vital medication or ensuring they can pay their bills on time,” Bullock said in a statement.
The USPS didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Epoch Times seeking comment.
10 Million Votes
Many more voters are expected to vote by mail this November due to concerns about the spread of the CCP virus. More than 17 million Americans have already cast their votes in the 2020 general election, according to data from 38 states that make it public, compared with the fewer than 2 million who had voted at about the same time ahead of the 2016 election.
The majority of Montana counties are holding elections by mail after a directive by Bullock permitted them to do so to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Bullock is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Nationwide, at least 84 percent of American voters will be able to vote by mail this election, according to a tally maintained by The Washington Post. The unprecedented surge in mail-in voting has put the USPS under increased scrutiny. The Postal Service has said it’s prepared to handle all of the election mail even if every American votes by mail.
The agreement comes after a federal judge temporarily blocked the USPS changes last month, calling them “a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” before the election.
Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, issued the nationwide preliminary injunction sought by Democrats in 14 states that brought forward a separate suit against the Trump administration and the USPS. The 14 states, through their Democratic attorneys general, expressed concern that delays might result in voters not receiving ballots or registration forms in time.
DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump and the GOP, announced he was suspending some of the changes, including the removal of mail collection boxes, but other changes would remain in place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.