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AG James files lawsuit, claims Trump and DeJoy’s ‘authoritarian actions’ are meant to suppress votes

August 26, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Immediately following remarks from President Donald Trump that many thought signaled a plan to purposefully undermine the U.S. Postal Service in order to rig the presidential election by starving it of resources, New York’s Attorney General Letitia James called his remarks an “authoritarian power grab” and vowed to do everything in her legal authority to stop it.

On Tuesday morning, James announced that she is leading a coalition of states and cities nationally in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its attempts to “dismantle the United States Postal Service and disrupt operations in an effort to undermine the November presidential election.”

“This USPS slowdown is nothing more than a voter suppression tactic,” said Attorney General James. “Yet, this time, these authoritarian actions are not only jeopardizing our democracy and fundamental right to vote, but the immediate health and financial well-being of Americans across the nation.”

The U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia, New York, Hawaii and New Jersey, along with New York City and San Francisco, are the plaintiffs in a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against Trump, the U.S. Postal Service and Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general.

The lawsuit came the day after the postmaster general testified before Congress and refused to reverse recent controversial policies that have arisen since more people expect to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

James has accused postmaster general DeJoy of purposefully scaling back the USPS’ operations so that it wouldn’t be able to handle an expected record number of mail-in ballots in November. She said that the slowdown has already had “life-threatening impacts on veterans and seniors” who have been unable to get their medications, pensions or other checks through the mail.

The lawsuit also alleges that DeJoy has removed mailboxes and sorting machines and has cut off employee overtime and late trips designed to ensure mail is delivered on time.

James explained that these actions are in line with Trump’s repeated public statements in opposition to mail-in voting and his desire to cut resources from the USPS. She specifically referred to statements where Trump claimed that mail-in ballots would harm Republicans’ abilities to win elections, and a tweet where Trump said, “Republicans, in particular, cannot let this happen!” when referring to mail-in ballots.

The USPS delivers nearly 120 million Veterans Affairs’ prescriptions through the mail. Twenty percent of adults over the age of 40 receive their prescriptions this way; 18 percent of Americans pay their bills by the mail, including 40 percent of seniors; and 40 percent of small businesses send their packages through the mail, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Voting by mail is an American tradition that goes back to the Civil War, when soldiers started voting by mail. Today there are five states that hold elections primarily by mail, and during the 2018 midterm elections there were 42 million ballots cast by mail nationally.

This year, New York is expected to have 10 times the number of voters who usually use the USPS to vote, according to the AG’s Office.

“The Post Office is as American as motherhood, baseball and apple pie,” said U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who represents a Brooklyn district. “The American people count on them to deliver Social Security benefits, medicine, unemployment insurance checks, ballots, and other essential items. No American should ever have to choose between their health and their constitutional right to vote.

“I applaud Attorney General Letitia James for bringing this lawsuit on behalf of New Yorkers to help stop the shameful attacks by the Trump administration on the USPS and our election system,” he said.

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