Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Public Citizen filed a lawsuit on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) against the United States Postal Service (USPS). Our suit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that recent changes by USPS were implemented in violation of federal law and have led to widespread disruptions in mail delivery that risk delaying the delivery of mail-in ballots — thereby causing voter disenfranchisement — for the November 2020 election. The NAACP, the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights grassroots organization, and its members rely on the timely delivery of the mail for a variety of important functions, including mail-in voting.
“As we approach the November election amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to ensure that every eligible voter has access to reliable mail service. The USPS’ decision to suddenly reduce services this summer has resulted in unacceptable mail delays that stand to profoundly affect the delivery of mail-in ballots and ballot applications,” said Sam Spital, LDF’s Director of Litigation.
“Our lawsuit on behalf of the NAACP asks that these changes are immediately suspended, as they were implemented in violation of federal law. It is critical that the USPS resume the prioritization of important letter mail, including ballots, to preserve the integrity of the upcoming election — and to ensure that all Americans are confident that their ballots and other important mail will be delivered promptly and reliably.”
“Politicizing the postal service is a threat to all Americans — to our right to vote, our receipt of important checks and medicines, and our ability to pay our bills on time. Although the Postmaster General rescinded some of his changes this week, half measures won’t do when it comes to timely delivery of important mail and ensuring people’s right to vote,” said Allison Zieve, Director of Public Citizen Litigation Group.
“As the country faces an uphill battle against COVID-19 and systemic racism, we’re witnessing a significant onslaught against our postal system at a time when prompt mail delivery matters more than ever, especially for voters of color. This willful and blatant attempt to obstruct the mail system amid a pandemic and on the precipice a pivotal election is a threat to the people of this nation to exercise their right to be heard in a fair and free election. The NAACP is committed to fighting for its members and the people of this nation to ensure we all have unfettered access to the ballot box, whether through in-person or mail-in voting,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP.
Reliable mail service is a basic public good and an essential part of American democracy. And, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, mail-in voting is more important than ever, as it allows for voters to maintain social distancing while casting secure ballots. Indeed, historic levels of mail-in voting are expected for the November 2020 election, for which over three-quarters of Americans will be eligible to request a ballot by mail.
Read the complaint here.
UPDATE: On March 5, 2021, LDF filed an amended complaint in the case centered on the need to ensure that procedures are implemented to guarantee that ballots are delivered promptly and reliably in future elections.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Public Citizen Litigation Group is the litigating arm of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. Public Citizen defends democracy, resists corporate power, and works to ensure that government works for the people. Through its Litigation Group, Public Citizen litigates to protect the rights of consumers to access the courts and to stop rollbacks of important consumer, worker, and environmental protections. Follow Public Citizen on Twitter.
Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP.