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Postal Service reaches settlement with NAACP over delivery of mail-in ballots

Derrick Johnson, the head of the NAACP, called the agreement an “unprecedented victory for civil rights."
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A U.S. Postal Service worker wears a mask and gloves amidst the coronavirus pandemic, in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 13, 2020.Mario Tama / Getty Images file

The U.S. Postal Service announced Friday that it had reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed last year by the NAACP over mail delays and their effect on election ballots.

In the settlement, the postal service agreed to take “extraordinary measures” to deliver ballots for the 2022 midterm elections, such as those used during the November 2020 election.

“Consistent with the Postal Service’s steadfast commitment to fulfilling our vital role in the nation’s electoral process, we agreed to continue to prioritize monitoring and timely delivery of Election Mail for future elections,” Thomas Marshall, the USPS general counsel said in a statement. “This will include outreach and coordination with election officials and election stakeholders, including the NAACP.”

The agency said it would publicly post mail-in ballot guidance no later than Feb. 1 for federal primary elections, and Oct. 1 for general elections. USPS agreed to post the guidance through 2028.

The postal service will also provide weekly reports on service performance starting six weeks before general elections.

The NAACP filed its lawsuit in August 2020, two months after Louis DeJoy became postmaster general and just weeks after he announced operational changes to the postal service.

The suit argued that those changes made mail delivery unreliable and sparked confusion in the lead-up to the 2020 election, in which millions of voters would rely on the postal service to deliver ballots by mail.

Derrick Johnson, the head of the NAACP, called Friday's settlement an “unprecedented victory for civil rights.”

"When we fight, we win. Ballot box or mailbox, a vote is a vote, and each vote is sacred,” he said in a statement. “No one, including the USPS, should ever stand in the way of our constitutional rights."

The Justice Department also welcomed the settlement.

“The right to vote and ability to access the ballot is the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Vanita Gupta, the associate attorney general, in a statement. “The department is pleased we could facilitate a resolution that reflects the commitment of all of the parties to appropriately handling and prioritizing election mail.”