By Julia Urquizo
WASHINGTON, DC – Public Citizen Litigation Group and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund have disclosed they successfully reached a settlement with the United States Postal Service over an election ballot delivery matter.
The case, NAACP v. United States Postal Service, stems from a lawsuit filed in August 2020 against the USPS for shipment delays and failing to implement appropriate measures to effectively deliver mail-in ballots on time.
The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was founded in 1909 and remains as one of the largest civil rights associations in the country.
Millions of Americans have increasingly relied on mail-in voting since the proliferation of COVID-19 to participate in critical municipal elections and, most recently, the 2020 presidential election, the Plaintiffs note.
Further, Plaintiffs said that not only have the numbers of mail-in ballots from average American citizens grown, but mail-in ballots for the most suppressed and disenfranchised voters across the country have played a central role in amplifying their voices for decades.
After growing concern that timely dispatched mail-in ballots were experiencing delivery delays for the 2020 presidential election, the NAACP immediately sued the USPS for disenfranchising voters.
This resulted in the US Postal Service using “extraordinary measures” prioritizing the timely delivery of mail-in ballots during the closing stages of the national election.
Now, as a result of the litigation, the USPS is legally required to enforce similar measures executed during the 2020 presidential election to ensure the timely delivery of ballots for future elections.
The 2021 settlement of the case details that the USPS must meet with the NAACP before national elections through 2028 and issue public guidance documents, all enforceable in court.
This means that the NAACP has been given the ability to surveil USPS’s fulfillment data to safeguard the public’s voting rights.
One way the USPS said it will enact this is by meeting with the NAACP in the months leading up to every national primary and general election. For general elections, the USPS will have to give the NAACP service performance reports at least one month before the final voting day.
The guidance documents will encapsulate the Postal Service’s plans for monitoring the timely arrival of mail-in ballots for national elections. Timely arrival of ballots means that it is in the hands of members from the boards of elections to be counted.
The NAACP quoted Allison Zieve, director of Public Citizen Litigation Group, rejoicing at the concluding provisions of the settlement, explaining, “The litigation against the Postal Service during last year’s election season had a significant impact on the timely delivery of mailed ballots.”
Zieve added, “Through this settlement, we are putting in place mechanisms to ensure that the Postal Service has procedures to handle election mail, to avoid the need for similar lawsuits every two years. The settlement helps to guard against politicization of mail delivery and facilitates citizens’ ability to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”