Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP, said Thursday that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy lied when he defended his restructuring of postal services as a measure to improve operational efficiency.
“It goes beyond being disingenuous,” Johnson told The Hill. “When you take sorting machines out of the post office, that were expressly put in to be rapid sorters to ensure mail is timely, and the rationale is making it quicker, that is lying.”
Johnson said the changes, outlined in an NAACP lawsuit filed Thursday against the Postal Service and DeJoy, were electorally motivated.
“It is not only seeking to undermine elections and subvert democracy, it is putting people’s lives at risk,” said Johnson.
In the lawsuit, the NAACP alleges the post office did not follow proper legal procedures before implementing DeJoy’s program, rendering the reforms illegal.
The NAACP further alleges that the changes have resulted “in unreliable service and widespread delays.”
A spokesperson for the Postal Service referred The Hill to a Monday statement by DeJoy, where he said the service “is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall.”
And DeJoy on Tuesday backed down from his ambitious reform program, as 20 states threatened to sue the Postal Service.
“That’s fine, but the changes already made have created harm, so we’re addressing the harm created,” said Johnson.
Johnson said that harm is twofold: People who depend on the mail for essential items like medicine could suffer from postal delays, and electorally, confidence in the security of voting by mail has been undermined.
“When you cut the hours and ability for overtime for post workers leading into a high-volume season for the election [and] the end result will be mail not delivered in a timely manner, you are seeking to undermine our election,” said Johnson.
Johnson added that voters of color and poor voters, who are less likely to participate in elections, are more likely to be disenfranchised by actions that undermine trust in voting methods.
In a recent poll of Latino and Black voters for Voter Participation Center and the Center for Voter Information, both groups were found to have distrust of mail-in voting systems.
Half of Latino voters surveyed said they planned to vote by mail, and half of Black voters said they would prefer to do so.
Johnson said that, while advances in minority participation have been made since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the last decade has seen “an acceleration to subvert democracy and suppress the vote.”
“If we truly respected and honored this democracy, we would stop using the process of voting — the administration of voting — as a polarized and racialized system. We must open up access to voting. Voters should not have to choose between their health and their right to vote and administration of voting should not be tempered by a desired outcome,” said Johnson.