Federal judge orders USPS to lift limits on extra trips to increase election mail deliveries

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the US Postal Service must rescind rules put in place by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over the summer and carry out extra trips to ensure the delivery of election mail.

Judge Emmet Sullivan said in his order that the USPS must notify staff that guidelines from July 14 no longer apply and that “personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary” at the same or a greater rate than before those guidelines were issued, in order to increase timely mail delivery, especially election mail.

“Defendants shall issue a one-page notice to, or deliver a Stand-Up Talk to, all USPS personnel who may have job responsibilities related in any way to late and extra trips,” Sullivan added, “stating that: ‘Late and extra trips will be approved to the maximum extent necessary to increase on-time mail deliveries, particularly for Election Mail. Any prior communication that is inconsistent with this should be disregarded. To be clear, late and extra trips will be approved to the same or greater degree than they were performed prior to July 2020 when doing so would increase on-time mail deliveries.’”

Sullivan also ordered USPS to distribute information to staff regarding each state’s deadlines for accepting ballots so that they can ensure timely delivery.

In order to ensure that the Postal Service carries out its duties, Sullivan is requiring it to provide the court with daily updates that include the number of extra and late trips that were taken the previous day, any available data specific to election mail, as well as percentages of on-time deliveries.

In addition to the daily reports, Sullivan ordered USPS to participate in daily status conferences.

A statement from USPS following the order said that its number one priority between now and the November election is the secure, timely delivery of the nation’s Election Mail,” and that it is “deploying extraordinary measures” that include “expedited handling, extra deliveries and special pickups” as it has done for past elections.

“These measures are on top of additional resources the Postal Service has allocated throughout October, including, but not limited to, expanded processing procedures, extra transportation, extra delivery and collection trips and overtime, to ensure that Election Mail reaches its intended destination in a timely manner,” the statement said.

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