By Ben Warwick

DENVER (CBS4) – Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Colorado has joined nearly two dozen other states in a federal lawsuit challenging dramatic cuts at the United States Postal Service. Those cuts, state leaders say, threaten critical mail service ahead of the November presidential election.

Colorado, along with Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, take the position that cuts put into place by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy threaten timely delivery of critical mail such as medical prescriptions and ballots. New USPS policies recently enacted also include reduced staff overtime compensation and an earlier deadline for end-of-day mail processing.

(credit: CBS)

In a release, Attorney General Weiser said the delays are likely to affect the delivery of ballots to processing centers in time to be counted in November’s General Election. Colorado has an all-mail election system. The delays would also impact nearly 50,000 Colorado veterans who use the Postal Service for delivery of critical mail-order prescription drugs.

RELATED: Colorado Congressional Delegation Says Cutting Postal Service Funding Will Hurt Veterans, Seniors, Rural Residents

“Coloradans depend on the U.S. Postal Service to conduct business, pay bills, order prescriptions, and to vote by mail,” Attorney General Weiser said in a news release. “The sweeping changes that the Postmaster General implemented at the Postal Service are illegal and threaten to undermine our state’s independent authority to conduct elections. Every Coloradan who uses the Postal Service for essential and time-sensitive items should be alarmed. We are bringing this lawsuit to fight for every citizen’s constitutional right to vote and to protect our State’s ability to manage our reliable, safe, and easy-to-use vote at home election system.”

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The suit, filed in federal court on Tuesday, alleges that DeJoy acted outside his authority in implementing drastic changes to the Postal Service operation. Changes must be submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission, which then evaluates proposals through procedures that include public notice and comment.

Attorney General Weiser claims the sudden and unilateral changes deprives state’s of a right to comment according to Federal law.

“President Trump is attacking the U.S. Postal Service to prevent vote by mail,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in a release. Undermining of the safest method to vote during a pandemic is voter suppression, and we will not allow it. As Secretary of State, I will always fight for Colorado voters, and I’m proud to partner with Governor Polis and Attorney General Weiser in this litigation to protect our voting right.”

Phil Weiser attorney general

Phil Weiser (credit: CBS)

Colorado has nearly a decade of voting by mail with no issues.

“Voting by mail is safe and secure and not a partisan issue,” Gov. Jared Polis said. “But recent politically motivated threats are undermining confidence in the U.S. Postal Service and are creating a legitimate danger to our democracy. Colorado has led the way nationally by demonstrating how safe, secure, and reliable vote-by-mail can be. Coloradans can be confident that we are defending our constitutional and sacred right to vote and to exercise that right safely by mail.”

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issued the following statement today: “The United States Postal Service will play a critical role this year in delivering election mail for millions of voters across the country. There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether the Postal Service is ready, willing and able to meet this challenge.

I want to make a few things clear:

The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall. Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards. The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and election day. The 630,000 dedicated women and men of the Postal Service are committed, ready and proud to meet this sacred duty.

I am announcing today the expansion of our current leadership taskforce on election mail to enhance our ongoing work and partnership with state and local election officials in jurisdictions throughout the country. Leaders of our postal unions and management associations have committed to joining this taskforce to ensure strong coordination throughout our organization. Because of the unprecedented demands of the 2020 election, this taskforce will help ensure that election officials and voters are well informed and fully supported by the Postal Service.

I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.

I want to assure all Americans of the following:

  1. Retail hours at Post Offices will not change.
  2. Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are.
  3. No mail processing facilities will be closed.
  4. And we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.

In addition, effective Oct. 1, we will engage standby resources in all areas of our operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand.

I am grateful for the commitment and dedication of all the men and women of the Postal Service, and the trust they earn from the American public every day, especially as we continue to contend with the impacts of COVID-19. As we move forward, they will have the full support of our organization throughout the election.”

Ben Warwick