A group of voters from several states and candidates for public office in New York filed a federal lawsuit Monday against President Donald Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy alleging that the pair's ongoing assault on the U.S. Postal Service unlawfully threatens Americans' right to vote amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Among the plaintiffs in the suit is Mondaire Jones, a progressive activist and attorney who won the Democratic primary for New York's 17th congressional district in June running on Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and tuition-free public college. In a series of tweets Monday, Jones wrote that "we've all watched in horror this week as Trump and DeJoy have been sabotaging the USPS: postal boxes ripped out, overtime halted, mail sorting machines destroyed."
"Like the existence of the USPS, our right to vote is enshrined in the Constitution. Trump does not have the authority to undermine our constitutional rights. That's why we've filed for an injunction to right this wrong before the General Election."
"Let's be real, we know why Trump is doing this: he's deliberately sabotaging the USPS to make it harder to vote by mail in the General Election. We know because he told us," Jones added. "This isn't just an attack against the fabric of our democracy: it's a personal attack against each and every American citizen. We need to take steps to make it easier to vote, not harder."
Filed in the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit (pdf) decries as "unconstitutional" efforts by Trump and DeJoy to "ensure USPS cannot reliably deliver election mail." The legal action comes as Democratic lawmakers in both chambers of the U.S. Congress are moving ahead with legislative action to end the Trump administration's sabotage of Postal Service operations.
"While President Trump himself is holding up necessary funding for the Post Office," the lawsuit says, "a flurry of steps taken by DeJoy all but guarantee that thousands upon thousands (if not millions) of ballots will simply not reach their destinations on time, will likely lack postmarks that are required by state law, and that the volume of election mail that is coming may be delayed for weeks."
Enough talk. Enough tweeting. We’re not playing this game.
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— Mondaire Jones (@MondaireJones) August 17, 2020
As the Associated Press reported, "Besides candidates for political office, plaintiffs included individuals who say they must vote by mail because they fear traveling or because they worry about contracting the coronavirus."
"Those individuals included a Chicago resident who recently underwent a bone marrow transplant, a digital colorist for film and television who votes in California, an 85-year old Suffolk County, New York, voter at an assisted living facility, and Mary Winton Green, a 97-year old retired philanthropist and Cook County, Illinois voter who first voted in 1944," according to AP.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring Trump and DeJoy—a major Republican donor to the president—to "take all steps necessary and sufficient to ensure that the USPS is adequately funded so that it can... deliver all election mail (1) consistently with past practice, (2) in a manner that ensures absentee and other mail ballots are treated equal to in-person ballots, and (3) with sufficient staffing and overtime to handle a record level of mail voting."
The lawsuit also demands that the court "unwind the harm already caused by Defendants' actions and policies and... mitigate any harms that may flow from already accomplished harms."
"Like the existence of the USPS, our right to vote is enshrined in the Constitution," said Jones. "Trump does not have the authority to undermine our constitutional rights. That's why we've filed for an injunction to right this wrong before the General Election."
This article has been updated to clarify that voters involved in the lawsuit are from several states, not just New York.