Seeks court order to ensure timely delivery of mail-in ballots during presidential election
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — joining a multistate coalition of attorneys general — today announced filing for a preliminary injunction to immediately reverse a series of sweeping policy revisions imposed by the Trump Administration on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that have slowed mail operations across the country. The operational changes follow months of false and unsubstantiated attacks by President Trump on mail-in voting and come just months ahead of a presidential election where a record number of mail-in ballots are expected to be cast largely as a result of COVID-19. In the legal filing, the coalition — building on the lawsuit filed on August 21, 2020 — urges the court to reinstate the status quo prior to USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s unlawful changes and prevent the Trump Administration from treating election mail with anything less than first-class mail delivery standards.
“The U.S. Postal Service is an American institution. For many, it’s a lifeline — their Social Security or paychecks, their medicine, their connection to loved ones. And for a vast, growing number, it’s their franchise to democracy,” said Attorney General Becerra. “President Trump’s sabotage of the USPS is un-American. It’s an attack on free and fair elections and our right to vote. No matter who you support, your right to vote is sacred. Remember to register early and make your voice count. In California, we’ll continue to stand up for every citizen and do our part to keep our elections safe and secure.”
With USPS already under strain due to the pandemic, the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the postal service 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. These attacks come despite the fact that USPS is a long-standing institution, which for more than 200 years has provided Americans with a critical public service. During the pandemic in particular, it also serves as a lifeline for Americans, including senior citizens and veterans. For instance, more than half of the people who receive medication by mail are over the age of 65 and roughly 120 million Veterans Affairs’ prescriptions are sent through the mail each year. With approximately 40 percent of small-business owners sending packages through the postal service on a monthly basis, USPS also provides crucial services for small businesses that help drive our nation’s economy. Despite testifying before Congress that the recent operational changes have led to delays, Postmaster General DeJoy has refused to commit to reverse the policies and has failed to fully explain how he would meet his commitment to deliver election mail at first-class rate speed.
The State of California has taken significant steps to protect the rights of voters and ensure they can vote safely and securely. 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 and Assembly Bill 860, 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 October 19, 2020 online or with a postmark by that date. 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. Last 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.
In seeking the court order, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the legal filing is available here.