United States Postal Service General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday suspended all mail service changes until after the November elections, after 20 Democratic states announced plans to file federal lawsuits.
The reversal comes amid criticism for President Trump, trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in opinion polls, of trying to hobble the Postal Service to suppress mail-in voting.
The Republican President has repeatedly without evidence said that an increase in mail-in ballots would lead to a surge in fraud, although Americans have long voted by mail.
Planned changes to the mail service that threatened to slow mail delivery – and in some cases, already have – include reductions in overtime, restrictions on extra mail transportation trips, and new mail sorting and delivery policies, enacted in an attempt to cut costs.
“I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” DeJoy said in a statement, adding that the changes were to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
DeJoy, a major political donor and ally of Trump, assumed the job in June. His recent operational changes had brought widespread criticism.
The coronavirus pandemic has increased pressure on the already ailing Postal Service to gear up and handle an increased volume in mail-in ballots.
One in four ballots in 2016 was cast by mail and Trump himself votes that way.