Attorney General Becerra to Challenge De Facto Trump Administration Attack on Free and Fair Election
During pandemic, Trump Administration actions threaten to undermine USPS’ timely delivery of millions of mail-in ballots nationwide
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced that he will join a multistate coalition of attorneys general, led by Pennsylvania, in a lawsuit to challenge the Trump Administration’s de facto attack on a free and fair election. Specifically, by failing to seek regulatory approval on policy changes that have a nationwide impact, United States Postal Service (USPS) Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — through several internal memos issued just months ahead of the election — unlawfully and unilaterally implemented a series of revisions to the postal service’s protocols and procedures that threaten to undermine the timely delivery of millions of mail-in ballots across the country. Already under strain due to the pandemic, these changes to USPS have, according to news reports, resulted in widespread, multiple-day delays in the delivery of mail — with Americans reportedly going upwards of three weeks without receiving paychecks or medication.
“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Attorney General Becerra. “That means relying on our postal service more than ever during this pandemic. Unsurprisingly, that doesn't stop President Trump from attacking our mail and lying about the facts no matter who gets hurt. To him, even when it comes to delivering your paycheck or medication, it's a joke. Our right to vote, your paycheck, your prescription medicines, you can’t get more serious than that. So, for the 96th time, we’re taking President Trump to court. No Americans should fear their vote won’t count simply because Donald Trump fears a free and fair election.”
The USPS’s actions align with the President’s own recent assertion that, by opposing demands to adequately fund USPS, he would be preventing the postal service from being able to handle the expected surge in demand for voting by mail, which could reportedly increase to more than 300 percent of the previous nationwide rate as compared to the last presidential election. In fact, USPS openly recognized this concern when it warned 46 states and the District of Columbia that, in conjunction with its operational changes, it could no longer guarantee timely compliance with all state election deadlines and delivery of all ballots cast by mail for the presidential election. In other words, millions of Americans eligible to vote across the country — even if they follow their state’s election rules — could be disenfranchised if the Trump Administration’s tampering with the postal service were allowed to stand. Further, despite President Trump’s unsupported allegations, studies have repeatedly shown that voting fraud is extremely rare in the United States — with no state reporting any indication of widespread voting fraud. Ultimately, these false claims of fraud and the unprecedented attacks on a 245-year-old institution not only threaten to undermine a free and fair election, but they also put the jobs of more than 600,000 postal workers nationwide at risk.
Recent reported changes to USPS operations by the Trump Administration include:
- Severely limiting employees from working overtime, despite reported increases in demand and the need to compensate for employees who are out sick or at home quarantining;
- Instructing letter carriers to leave mail behind if it delays routes, running counter to the training postal workers traditionally receive to ensure prompt delivery;
- Removing mailbox locations around the country, a practice the Trump Administration has since allegedly paused as a result of public outcry;
- Banning postal workers from using more than four “park points” in their deliveries, in which letter carriers park their trucks at a point on the street to deliver mail by foot; and
- Decommissioning mail-sorting machines, with reductions in sorting capacity estimated to affect more than half a million mail items per hour in Los Angeles alone.
California’s election laws generally remove impediments for eligible U.S. Citizens to vote. For instance, county election officials are required to process and count vote-by-mail ballots that are postmarked on or before election day and arrive no later than 17 days after the election. Further, as a result of California Executive Order N-64-20, registered voters should expect to receive a vote-by-mail ballot prior to the election. The current registration deadline for the November 3, 2020 election is online or with a postmark by October 19, 2020. Some exceptions apply to the deadline and voters can still conditionally register at their county elections office after the October 19th deadline. More information about registering to vote or checking your registration status is available on the California Secretary of State’s website here: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/election-2020/.
Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting the voting rights of people in California and across the country. Earlier this month, Attorney General Becerra filed an amicus brief in support of a challenge to a Florida law attempting to roll back voting rights. In July, he filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s latest attack on a complete, accurate census count, which determines Congressional representation and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds. In May, the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in support of a felon re-enfranchisement effort in North Carolina. Ahead of the 2018 midterm election, Attorney General Becerra reminded voters of their rights under the California Voter Bill of Rights. In 2017, the Attorney General pushed back against extreme partisan gerrymandering in a friend-of-the-court brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A copy of the complaint is now available here.