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Three more Democratic-led states announced they will take legal action to protect the U.S. Postal Service and mail-in voting as the Trump administration faces claims it is trying to undermine the election.
The attorneys general of Pennsylvania, Washington and Connecticut said they will hold press conferences Aug. 18 to announce the legal actions, following pledges earlier in the week by New York and Massachusetts.
President Donald Trump has said without evidence that mail-in voting will lead to massive election fraud, even as a record number of Americans are expected to use absentee ballots to avoid long lines and crowded polling places in the midst of a deadly pandemic. At the same time, a Trump-appointed postmaster general has instituted systemwide spending cuts.
The Postal Service has sent warnings to 46 states that it may not be able to deliver their ballots on time for the November election, drawing criticism from Democrats. Former President Barack Obama said last week Trump was trying to “kneecap” the USPS, and concern over funding mail service was a frequent topic in the Aug. 17 kickoff to the Democratic National Convention.
The “extraordinary” level of suspicion and dysfunction on display justifies litigation over Postal Service funding, even if it’s too early to tell what kind of defenses the administration may have, according to Wendy Weiser, who heads a democracy program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.
“The president has said things that are very suspicious,” said Weiser, who isn’t involved in the litigation. “There’s certainly enough information to give rise to a lawsuit alleging the Postal Service didn’t follow proper protocols or that changes were pretextual. This is not normal in the United States.”
The Postal Service’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.
Separately, a group of voters sued the Trump administration in federal court in Washington, D.C., calling for the government to reverse recent changes to the Postal Service, including a hiring freeze and cancellation of overtime pay.
On Aug. 17, a group of voters and political candidates in New York sued Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to ensure that the Postal Service gets enough funding to handle the expected surge. That suit alleges Trump and DeJoy have “set out to ensure USPS cannot reliably deliver election mail” because the president sees it as a threat to his re-election. It isn’t yet clear what claims the states will make, though they are likely to involve voting rights.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said Aug. 18 she’ll be filing a lawsuit that will be separate from those filed by other states.
“President Trump’s efforts are nothing more than a tyrannical power grab by a man who is desperate to cling on to power, which is why New York will soon be filing its own lawsuit to stop the president’s efforts to dismantle the U.S. Postal Service and undermine our elections,” James said in a statement.
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