21:04 GMT31 October 2020
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    A federal judge in the US state of Washington has granted a preliminary injunction to block recent United States Postal Service (USPS) changes that have slowed down mail services ahead of the November presidential election.

    Stanley Bastian, chief judge of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, ruled on Thursday that the USPS would have to cease carrying out a number of operational changes that may threaten critical mail delivery.

    "The states have demonstrated the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service," Bastian said, as reported by the Associated Press

    He added that the changes created "a substantial possibility many voters will be disenfranchised.''

    A September 10 release by the Washington State Office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson noted the motion for preliminary injunction called for the immediate halting of "the Postal Service’s 'leave mail behind' policy, where postal trucks are required to leave at specified times, regardless if there is mail still to be loaded."

    The Washington-filed injunction represented the state of Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. 

    “Nationwide relief is also needed to provide complete relief to the Plaintiff States for the procedural harm they have suffered: deprivation of the right to comment on broad-based changes before implementation,” Ferguson wrote in the court filing. 

    “Allowing these ‘transformative changes’ to take effect in much of the country while the [Postal Regulatory Commission] considers whether they should be allowed to take effect would render the legally required notice and comment process a farce.”

    Prior the states' joint legal action, US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy came under fire for not consulting Congress before carrying out a number of so-called operational efficiencies, including the alleged ordered removal and movement of blue USPS mailboxes. 

    DeJoy denied lawmakers' claims during his appearance before the House Oversight Committee in late August. 

    “First, I did not direct the removal of blue collection boxes or the removal of mail processing equipment," he claimed. "Second, I did not direct a cutback on hours at any of our post offices. And finally, I did not direct the elimination or any cutback in overtime.”

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