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Postal Service ordered to reverse mail collection limitations

A federal judge on Tuesday night ordered the U.S. Postal Service to immediately reverse limitations on mail collection that had been put in place by Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyJudge orders Postal Service to sweep facilities twice a day for any ballots that can be delivered on time Brent Budowsky: Democracy in America is on trial Postal Service misses court-ordered deadline for unsent mail ballots MORE, commanding the agency to inform workers of the court's changes by Wednesday morning.

Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District Court for the District of Columbia granted an emergency motion against President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE, according to the detailed order obtained by Politico. Sullivan granted the emergency motion to enforce and monitor compliance with the preliminary injunction issued late last month that prevented the administration from enforcing DeJoy’s operational changes.

The agency has until 9 a.m. on Wednesday to inform workers that DeJoy’s guidelines, implemented in July, limiting late and extra trips to collect mail are rescinded.

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The news comes as a record number of Americans have already cast their ballots for the Nov. 3 elections through the mail as a safety precaution during the coronavirus pandemic. 

"USPS personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary to increase on-time mail deliveries, particularly for Election Mail," Sullivan wrote. "To be clear, late and extra trips should be performed to the same or greater degree than they were performed prior to July 2020 when doing so would increase on-time mail deliveries.”

Sullivan also instructed the Postal Service to send him daily updates on the number of extra and late trips occurring every day at national, regional and local levels. The judge also requested information about on-time deliveries.

The agency and the plaintiffs who initially sued the Postal Service will also meet in daily video conferences at 3 p.m. to discuss how the agency is complying with the judge’s order.

The new motion comes after Sullivan last week ordered the Postal Service to restore high-speed mail sorting machines at facilities that cannot process First Class election mail efficiently amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

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The states of New York, Hawaii and New Jersey, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), sued the Trump administration in late August claiming that actions taken by the administration and the postmaster general were aimed to disrupt mail operations before the elections. San Francisco and New York City also joined the suit. 

DeJoy issued sweeping operational changes in June and July, citing cost-cutting measures during the pandemic. The alterations included changes to personnel, overtime pay for postal workers and removing mail sorting machines. 

However, the changes drew bipartisan backlash from those who accused DeJoy, a major GOP donor and Trump ally who took over the role in June, of trying to use the changes to help the president win reelection.

In August, DeJoy said he would pause his changes until after the election "to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”

The postmaster general said retail hours at post offices will remain unchanged, mail processing equipment and collection boxes will not be removed and no mail processing facilities will be closed.

The Postal Service confirmed on Thursday that it has already delivered over 100 million blank or completed mail-in ballots since early September.