Minnesota joins multi-state lawsuit against U.S. Postal Service changes, citing impact on election

NEW YORK, USA - AUGUST 18: Vehicles of US Postal Service (USPS) is seen in New York, USA on August 18, 2020. While discussions about the "mail-in voting" will be carried on November 3rd, due to public health concerns over the coronavirus (Covid-19) p ((Photo by Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images))

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is joining a coalition of 14 states to sue the U.S. Postal Service in order to stop "drastic operational changes," which he says could impact timely mail delivery and affect the upcoming election.

Among the changes includes removing mail sorting equipment and mailboxes, ending staff overtime and modifying operations at state distribution centers. 

"For the [Trump] administration to attack the Postal Service at this this critical moment in our history is deeply disturbing. It requires that we step forward immediately to protect this public service, our right to vote, and people’s lives,” Ellison said in a press release. 

The lawsuit argues Postmaster General Louis DeJoy instituted these changes without following the proper procedure by not submitting a proposal to the Postal Regulatory Commission. According to the complaint, the mail sorting capacity in the Twin Cities has decreased by about 100,000 to 200,000 pieces of mail per hour and that at least three mail-sorting machines in Minneapolis have been recently decommissioned.

A few hours before Ellison made his announcement, DeJoy released a statement saying the changes will be put on hold until after the election. However, it is unclear what this means for equipment that was already decommissioned.

Beyond the election, Ellison says the changes could also affect timely delivery of items such as prescription drugs. The lawsuit argues the impacts of these changes will be disporpotionately felt by people of color who live in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where the state's two largest mail processing facilities are located.

Ellison is joing the federal lawsuit originally filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.