The USPS claimed it can't restore some mail sorting machines because it 'dismantled' them

Louis Dejoy
US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has come under fire from states who have claimed he ordered changes at the USPS in an attempt to sabotage mail-in voting.
  • The US Postal Service claimed in a court filing Wednesday that it has already taken apart high-speed mail sorting machines and therefore can't put them back into service.

  • The USPS claimed it was "not possible" to restore machines it had "dismantled" for parts, only those that had merely been "disconnected."

  • A federal judge issued an injunction last week requiring the USPS to reverse those and other changes made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, calling them an "an intentional effort" by Trump and DeJoy "to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections."

  • Fourteen Democratic state attorneys general sued over DeJoy's initiative after Trump admitted it was meant to sabotage mail-in voting, while two additional lawsuits have been filed since then.

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The US Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told a federal judge Wednesday that the agency couldn't follow his order requiring it to restore hundreds of high-speed mail sorting machines ahead of the November elections because it had already taken some of them apart.

In a court filing, Trump administration lawyers argued that Judge Stanley Bastian of the Washington Eastern District Court state should amend a nationwide injunction he issued last week requiring the USPS to reverse those and other changes, arguing it could only restore "machines that were disconnected, but not dismantled."

"Dismantled machines 'are generally dissembled for their usable parts, with such parts being removed to maintain
or enhance other machines.' It is therefore not possible to return such machines to service," the USPS argued.

The USPS also claimed the decommissioned machines wouldn't prevent it from counting mail-in ballots because it has "more than sufficient capacity to process current and anticipated mail volumes with the existing machine fleet."

The USPS has removed 711 machines this year, according to testimony and documents submitted to a New York federal court — nearly twice as many as the 388 machines it averaged annually between 2015 and 2019.

Democratic attorneys general from 14 states sued the USPS and President Donald Trump last month after DeJoy made the controversial and sweeping cost-cutting changes, alleging that it was part of a deliberate effort to undermine the election, citing Trump's repeated admissions that he wants to financially hamstring the USPS to sabotage mail-in voting.

Judge Bastian agreed, calling DeJoy's moves "voter disenfranchisement" in last week's injunction, and requiring the agency to reverse its decisions to decommission mail sorting machines, leave mail behind, eliminate overtime, remove mailboxes, and reduce operating hours.

Bastian concluded that DeJoy's cost-cutting changes were "an intentional effort on the part the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections, especially given that 72% of the decommissioned high-speed mail sorting machines that were decommissioned were located in counties where Hillary Clinton receive the most votes in 2016."

The USPS has become a major flashpoint in the upcoming elections as millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail due to health risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the agency to play a crucial role in delivering those ballots.

DeJoy, a major Republican donor and close Trump ally appointed by the president to lead the USPS, has come under fire over the cost-cutting measures. DeJoy faced a grilling from lawmakers last month who claimed the changes could cause delays in delivering ballots.

Trump has frequently claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting is linked with widespread voter fraud. Experts have repeatedly debunked those claims, and top Republicans have worried that his attacks on mail-in voting could cost their party the election.

Two additional lawsuits have been filed against DeJoy and the USPS, one by a group of attorneys general from New York state, New Jersey, Hawaii, New York City, and San Francisco, and another from a separate group of attorneys general from Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

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