AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine will join several other states to sue the U.S. Postal Service over recent policy changes that have led to reports of mail delays and concerns about the reliability of the system ahead of the November election.
Attorney General Aaron Frey said the state will sign onto a Pennsylvania-led lawsuit alongside other states with Democratic attorneys general including California, Massachusetts and Delaware alleging new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy violated federal law when he implemented recent policy changes to how the Postal Service operates.
Other states are expected to sign onto another lawsuit led by Washington state, according to The Washington Post. Frey formally announced his intent to participate in the lawsuit in a Tuesday statement saying the suit will contend the Postal Service acted outside its authority to make changes and did not follow correct procedures.
Maine and other states will seek an immediate reversal of the policies and “guarantee safeguards” for election mail, according to Frey’s office. The Maine attorney general said the actions “constitute a clear effort to interfere with Mainers’ ability to vote safely by mail.”
The Postal Service has been in the spotlight as cost-cutting measures implemented by DeJoy and comments from President Donald Trump about not supporting additional funding for the agency have raised fears that the Nov. 3 election could be affected with record numbers of mail-in votes expected because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Frey and others may not have to wait for court action to get their wish. DeJoy said Tuesday that he would suspend some “longstanding operational initiatives” meant to fix the Postal Service’s issues — including no longer waiting for late mail trucks and cutting back on overtime — until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of any impact” on that mail.
“Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time,” he said.
Frey said those changes would have needed to go through the Postal Regulatory Commission’s approval process first. DeJoy’s “sudden and unilateral” change deprived states of their right to weigh in on such actions prior to their implementation, he said.
The federal agency told Maine and dozens of other states they should encourage mail-in voters to send their ballots up to 15 days before Election Day to account for any delays caused by volume. Mainers can also hand-deliver ballots to municipal clerks and the state is looking into acquiring ballot drop boxes for cities and towns to give voters another option.