A federal judge on Thursday approved an agreement between the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and civil rights groups that would implement measures to ensure that absentee ballots in Georgia are delivered in time for the state’s two Senate runoff elections next month.
The parties submitted the agreement to the court late Wednesday in an effort to “avoid the cost and burden of further litigation between now and the Georgia Runoff Elections.”
The agreement is the result of numerous ongoing lawsuits filed by groups such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Vote Forward that were originally in response to the Trump administration’s Postal Service cutbacks.
“Every ballot must be counted, and this agreement with the USPS is a significant step in ensuring that the mail-in voting process for the Georgia runoff election will ensure the timely delivery of ballots,” Sam Spital, the Legal Defense Fund’s litigation director, said in a statement. “The agreement provides for the prioritization of ballot delivery, the timely resolution of any delays in the delivery system, and transparency into the USPS process for ensuring that no voters are disenfranchised.”
The Department of Justice, which is representing the Postal Service in the cases, has appealed court orders striking down Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyDeJoy’s calendar released by Postal Service is almost entirely redacted Postal employees report backlogs across the country amid holiday shipping The case that insured mail-in ballots would be counted MORE’s directives issued earlier this year to cut back on delivery services.
DeJoy issued sweeping changes to personnel, equipment and other services in June and July, citing the need to reduce costs amid the coronavirus pandemic. The move prompted pushback from Democrats and critics who accused the postmaster, a pick of President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy to offer UC request to revisit foreign spending in omnibus GOP senator on Trump pardons: ‘This is rotten to the core’ Trump pardons Manafort, Stone and Charles Kushner in latest round MORE’s, of trying to help the president win reelection.
The agreement will require Georgia postal facilities to regularly sweep for undelivered ballots until the Jan. 5 election and continue to use expedited delivery services for mail-in ballots.
The plaintiffs agreed to not ask the federal district court in Washington, D.C., for any further orders in their cases until after the elections.
The two Senate races in Georgia will decide which party will control the upper chamber as President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump administration advances bomb sale to Saudis Klobuchar: Trump ‘trying to burn this country down on his way out’ OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten air quality standard for smog | Green groups sue over Trump bid to open Alaska’s Tongass forest to logging MORE takes office.
The news of the deal comes as the Postal Service has experienced severe delays in mail during the holidays.