Federal judge takes steps to force improved handling of election mail in suit brought by Biaggi, Jones

Federal judge takes steps to force improved handling of election mail in suit brought by Biaggi, Jones

A federal judge Monday took steps to force election mail be handled as first class or priority mail and that the United State Postal Service pre-approve overtime during the period of mail-in balloting in a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, President Donald J. Trump and the USPS. The lawsuit was brought by State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Mondaire Jones, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the New York’s 17th District, among others.

Judge Victor Marrero, a senior judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, granted a preliminary injunction in part, then directed the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint and directed the parties meet by week’s end to settle an order consistent with his ruling.

Should the parties fail to come to an agreement, Marrero listed several key actions that would take effect, including mandating all “election mail” be treated as first class or priority mail, requiring the postal service to pre-approve all overtime from Oct. 26 through Nov. 6 and that it submit a cost estimate for treating election mail as first class mail starting on Oct. 15.

Marrero ruled that the injunction would have nationwide affect, citing “the nationwide scope of the defendants’ conduct.”

While Marrero went on to reject the plaintiff’s requested relief against the president, he ruled that “injunctive relief is available against DeJoy and the postal service.”

The complaint, filed August 17, reviewed the history of the postal service before discussing its impact on the November election. It goes into detail regarding major policy changes made by the leadership of the postal service in the lead-up to the election and discussed reports that the changes resulted in the slowing of mail processing and distribution.

The complaint discussed Trump’s involvement, before putting forward two arguments, the first regarding “First Amendment right to vote” and the second regarding “equal protection and one person, one vote.”

Alongside Biaggi and Jones, the complaint listed 14 others as plaintiffs, including a range of absentee voters and other candidates for office.

“This is a historic moment because it serves to hold the Trump administration accountable for actions that undermine our democratic process and peoples’ right to vote,” said Biaggi in a press release. “It also recognizes the invaluable role that the Postal Service and its workers play in the preservation of fair and equitable elections, especially during a pandemic when a record number of Americans will be voting by mail while in-person voting remains a risk to vulnerable peoples’ health.”

Jones posted on Twitter: “With more Americans voting by mail this fall than ever before, we won’t have a free and fair election without the USPS… That’s why I filed this lawsuit, and it’s why I’m grateful for the court’s decision to ensure the integrity of our elections,” before going on to thank Biaggi, the attorneys involved and the rest of the plaintiffs.