This case, unlike the case decided last week in Washington State, raised legal issues only about voting and voting rights. In a lengthy decision, the Court found that even if the Postmaster General did not intend his recent changes, ideas, and statements to impact election mail, managers in the field understood the PMG’s directives differently. As a result, the Court concluded, there was a real risk that managers were not meeting the priority the Postal Service gives to election mail which could slow down processing and deprive some voters of the right to cast their ballots.
Based on a recent USPS Inspector General audit, expert testimony, and testimony from APWU members, the Judge crafted a very specific injunction laying out detailed steps for the Postal Service to take to ensure election mail flows smoothly and quickly through the network. Importantly, the Court instructed the Postal Service to immediately put its long-held practices for handling election mail in writing so all postal employees, especially supervisors and managers, know exactly how to process election mail.
The Court also directed the Postal Service to ensure it has strong communication between headquarters and the field, and that all managers and supervisors be instructed on the steps to take to meet the Postal Service’s top priority of supporting voting by mail. The Postal Service has already put out instructions to its high level managers to comply with the requirements of the Court’s injunction.
Like the first injunction, the tangible steps in this second injunction will ensure that all postal workers know the proven and tested policies and practices for handling election mail. The APWU will continue to press in the Postal Service Task Force and in our own Joint Training Committee to make sure the Postal Service meets the requirements of the courts and the American public in living up to its tradition of careful and fast handling of election mail.
The courts’ concern for competent Postal Service operations that serve critical public needs is another reminder of the importance of a strong public postal system. That importance does not end on Election Day. The APWU will continue to fight any dismantling of this national treasure alongside the states, groups and millions of individuals who have joined our battle for a public United States Postal Service.