RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring joined 13 other attorneys general Wednesday in filing a motion to block sweeping changes to the U.S. Postal Service.
Democrats say the operational changes are designed to disrupt life and the Nov. 3 elections.
Herring, in a news release, called the operational changes that are already in place reckless and illegal. A record number of ballots will be cast by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have already heard from Virginians around the Commonwealth whose mail isn’t being delivered on time, or who have had delays in receiving life-saving medications or social security payments because of these reckless, illegal changes. With a crucial election coming up in just a few months, it has become clear that we must go to court to stop these changes and work to reverse the damage that has been done so millions of Americans who vote by mail this year are not disenfranchised. I remain dedicated to ensuring every Virginian’s and every American’s vote counts this fall,” said Herring.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former North Carolina logistics company owner, may have violated election laws when he encouraged employees to contribute to Republican candidates and then provided them with bonuses.
President Donald Trump this week said the matter should be investigated, and Republican Rob Wittman of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District agrees. For weeks, Wittman says he has been attempting to meet with DeJoy in a joint gathering with Virginia’s governor to find out why deliveries, especially medications, have been slow.
“What we found out was that there were some reductions in personnel [attrition] and not by actions of the post office that caused delays,” said Wittman.
But, Democrats say actions by the new postmaster — removing high-speed sorters mostly in urban areas, cutting overtime, and removing drop boxes — have caused delays that are designed to slow down voting by mail.
A few weeks ago, the president of Local 262 of the American Postal Worker Union told 10 On Your Side the power source to three high sorting machines at the processing center just outside downtown Norfolk was disconnected. As of last week, the machines had not been returned to service. Union representatives from across the country have shared similar stories of high-speed sorters that have been removed and even dismantled.
63-year-old Virginia Beach resident Nelson DeLeon, a heart transplant recipient, takes 17 medications every day. The former U.S. Marine and letter carrier says his medications by mail were 10 days late earlier this summer. He was forced to take half doses of the medications that suppress his immune system to prevent it from rejecting his transplanted heart.
“I do agree that they are slowing down the mail — I spoke to some of the letter carriers, they have to leave at a certain time, they do not wait for that truck [a truck carrying mail needing delivery],” said DeLeon.
Herring and others say under the new postmaster general’s orders, there is a “Leave Mail Behind” policy that is slowing checks, bills, and medications that many Americans need to stay alive. DeLeon’s wife says Trump’s postal service is playing politics with her husband’s life.
“When they did this [delay mail], it was to affect the election in Trump’s favor. However, what they didn’t realize is the impact on everything else,” said DeLeon.
The actions against Trump and others was filed in Yakima, Washington State federal court. Oral arguments are set for Sept. 17.
Earlier this month, Herring asked Virginians and businesses to share their experiences related to impacts from recent, hasty changes made to the USPS. There is a dedicated email address with his office — USPS@oag.state.va.us — where Virginians can share their stories.
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