Looking out for Pennsylvanians’ rights

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(WBRE/WYOU) — In November, a record number of voters will mail in their ballots.

But there are concerns that changes to the U.S. Postal Service could delay delivery of those ballots until after the election. Pennsylvania’s attorney general is taking legal steps to make sure Pennsylvanians’ rights are protected.

Tuesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed two federal lawsuits challenging nationwide operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service. They’re trying to stop unilateral changes at the Postal Service and ensure safe, secure vote-by-mail across the country.

“The postal service is a public service. One that was working quite well until new leaders swooped in, and began to implement changes that disrupted the order and flow of the postal service as their workers knew it,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro says recent changes at the Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy are causing mail delays. Those changes include requiring late-arriving mail to be left for delivery the following day, and limiting the length of shifts.

Shapiro claims we are already seeing the result, with mail left in boxes and on trucks waiting to be delivered.

“I’m personally quite concerned about what I have read about irregularities and new changes proposed by the postmaster,” Kishore Harjai of Wilkes-Barre said.

The timing of the delivery disruptions is concerning, less than three months before the presidential election and some voters say they’re concerned.

“In times of COVID and for their safety, will they feel they can vote and will it arrive in time and be counted or just not vote at all because they feel it’s not worth it,” Rindy Karpel of Wilkes-Barre said.

DeJoy issued a statement on Tuesday, saying he will “suspend” changes to the United States Postal Service until after the election, like removing mail processing equipment and collection boxes. DeJoy also said the agency won’t change retail hours at post offices across the country or close mail-sorting facilities, and overtime will be approved when necessary.

But Shapiro says the statement isn’t enough, and wants DeJoy to be held accountable. Ferguson and Shapiro will continue with the lawsuit, saying the changes were not approved and they violate Pennsylvanians’ constitutional rights.

“Pennsylvanians have every reason to feel confident that we’re on it. We’re examining the record of everything that’s happened. We’re closely following patterns of misconduct,” Shapiro said.

DeJoy will appear Friday before the Senate to testify about the uproar over mail delivery disruptions. In his statement, he said “The postal service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall.”

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