Share
October 6, 2020 1:15 PM, EDT

USPS: Election Is at Risk Over Conflicting Injunctions

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy speaks during a hearing on Aug. 24. (Tom Williams/Pool via AP)Postmaster General Louis DeJoy speaks during a House Oversight and REform Committee hearing on Aug. 24. (Tom Williams/Pool via AP)

[Ensure you have all the info you need in these unprecedented times. Subscribe now.]

The delivery of election mail could be disrupted by operational changes arising from competing national court orders, the U.S. Postal Service warned.

Less than a month before a presidential election that will rely heavily on the delivery of mail-in ballots, rulings on overtime for workers and delivery guidelines must be clarified to avoid confusing local USPS managers, the agency said in a filing late Oct. 5 in federal court in Philadelphia. It cited five national injunctions issued by four courts.

“Certain vague, overlapping requirements in these injunctions may be read to impose crippling obligations on the Postal Service that would be near impossible to implement or would cause further delays,” USPS said in the filing. The Postal Service is seeking clarification with the courts to ensure compliance “while avoiding massive operational disruptions,” it said.

RELATED: US Judge Orders Stop to USPS Cuts, Echoing Others

USPS cited a provision of a court order blocking it from prohibiting late or extra trips by mail trucks. The agency said allowing such trips “without any limitation” would be counterproductive in many cases and “negatively impact service.”

The filing comes in one of three multistate lawsuits brought by Democratic state attorneys general who allege that operational changes put in place by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy hindered mail delivery just before an expected surge in absentee ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.

USPS has already persuaded a federal judge in New York to clarify an injunction in a separate case requiring the agency to approve overtime for workers. The judge adjusted the order to specify that it applied only to workers handling election mail, after USPS said a broad interpretation could be abused by workers.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing: