Attorneys general from 20 states have sent a document to the Postal Regulatory Commission calling on it to reject Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan to delay first-class mail, which they warn could delay essential services and make it harder for officials to administer elections.
The statement of position, signed by two cities, a county, the District of Columbia, and attorneys general from states, such as New York and California, says that the postal commission should be focused on undoing the problems with the United States Postal Service (USPS) caused largely by Dejoy’s actions from last year, not creating new problems with the service.
The group of state and local officials points out that mail delays and sweeping changes implemented by the embattled postmaster last year were found by four different federal judges to be unlawful. Delays to service made by DeJoy in 2020 — seemingly with the goal of disenfranchising voters ahead of the presidential election, as some have stated — plunged the USPS into crisis.
“Regrettably, it appears that the Postal Service is poised to repeat many of these mistakes,” the statement of position reads. It details changes to “degrade service standards” DeJoy is planning to make, like significantly slowing first-class mail. “[The Postal Service] seeks to implement these changes, despite never having restored service to its prior levels following the disastrous July 2020 initiatives and while the country still recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic downturn.”
But the USPS doesn’t have to keep spiraling down, the government officials write. “The Commission should urge the Postal Service to abandon this misguided effort and instead focus its attention on improving its performance in delivering First-Class Mail and other market-dominant products,” the statement reads. “Only once the Postal Service has shown that it can reliably meet its performance targets should it consider whether it is necessary to change its service standards to address long-term trends in the utilization of its products.”
Earlier this year, DeJoy unveiled a plan to slow mail delivery even further as the USPS still struggles with service delays from changes made last year. The state and local officials especially take issue with the part of his plan that they say would slow a significant portion of first-class mail by 2 to 3 days.
The proposed changes would also harm the ability of the Postal Service to carry out its mission of serving all communities in the U.S., especially the rural and underserved, the officials write. They point to an analysis showing that across the U.S., homes and businesses in at least 34 percent of the zip codes in each state would experience a slowdown in the mail service under DeJoy’s new plan. And in 36 of the contiguous 48 states, in-state mail would also be slower.
This wouldn’t only affect individuals’ and businesses’ ability to send and receive mail — it would also be detrimental to the government’s ability to carry out services like food stamps and Medicaid. For those who rely on these services, “The loss of these benefits for any amount of time would lead to increased financial deprivation, risk of food insecurity, inability to obtain medical care, and other adverse consequences,” the officials write.
State governments rely on the normally swift and reliable service of the USPS, they point out, to issue official documents like birth and death certificates, driver’s license documents, voter registration and absentee ballots. All of these services could end up impacted by DeJoy’s plan, they write, and contrary to the Postal Service’s purpose, these changes would disproportionately affect people in rural areas and small towns.
“Postmaster General DeJoy wants to lead the USPS in making further service cuts that would only result in more delays,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, co-leader of the effort, in a statement. “The Postal Regulatory Commission should reject these changes and direct the USPS to take action to resume USPS service to what it once was. If they don’t, we will not hesitate to use every tool at our disposal to hold the USPS accountable.”