Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a multistate coalition that will file a federal lawsuit challenging drastic operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service. These changes threaten critical mail delivery for all Nevadans.
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The Postal Service cuts, including eliminating staff overtime, altering operations at state distribution centers and removing critical mail sorting equipment, threaten the timely delivery of mail to individuals who rely on the Postal Service for everything from medical prescriptions, social security checks, to ballots.
For many Nevada businesses, from large distribution companies to small, home-based businesses, the Postal Service is a critical part of their business model to deliver goods purchased by consumers across the country. During the pandemic, online shopping has skyrocketed. Preventing consumers from receiving their purchases in a timely manner will impede Nevada’s economic growth at a time when we need it most.
The Postal Service also recently notified states that it will end its longstanding practice of processing ballots as first-class mail — regardless of what type of postage is used. States and counties that use marketing or bulk-rate postage for their ballots could experience delays.
Postal Service Changes:
Recent changes at the Postal Service instituted by Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have already resulted in mail delays, Congressional leaders argue. These changes include eliminating staff overtime, changing the way mail is sorted and requiring late-arriving mail to be left for delivery the following day.
The Postal Service has also announced plans to stop processing outgoing mail at some state mail distribution centers. This would disproportionately impact rural communities, often significantly increasing the distance mail must travel. For example, mail sent from one address to another in the same town would have to travel all the way to one of the remaining distribution centers and back again before being delivered.
Eligible Nevadans have been able to vote by mail for many years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nevada State Legislature passed a bill to mail ballots to all active, registered voters. Nevadans are counting on the Postal Service to deliver their ballot to their homes in a timely manner.
President Trump stated last week that the service cuts at the Postal Service have a partisan motive: “They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess.”
Impacts on Seniors and Veterans:
Postal Service cuts threaten timely mail deliveries for a range of important services, from prescriptions to utility bills. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Americans, especially seniors and other high risk individuals, to rely increasingly on mail delivery services while they stay at home for their health. In general, seniors rely heavily on the mail to receive essentials like medications, Social Security benefits and even groceries.
The policy changes have already impacted our country’s veterans, who are reporting much longer wait times to receive mail-order prescription drugs. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), which provides broad health care services to veterans nationwide, fills about 80 percent of veteran prescriptions by mail. The VA processes about 120 million mail-order prescriptions per year — 470,000 a day. The Postal Service makes daily prescription deliveries to 330,000 veterans across the country.
The states will assert that the Postal Service has acted outside of its authority to implement changes to the postal system and did not follow the proper procedures under federal law. The law requires that changes at the U.S. Postal Service that cause a nationwide impact in mail service must be submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The Commission then evaluates the proposal through a procedure that includes public notice and comment. The federal government’s failure to perform this mandatory duty deprived the states of their statutory right to notice and comment on USPS’ nationwide service changes.
The states’ lawsuit will seek to block the unlawful service reductions and operational changes at the Postal Service.
In addition to Nevada, attorneys general from the following states joined the coalition: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.