LDF and Public Citizen Reach Historic Settlement in Lawsuit Against U.S. Postal Service to Ensure Timely Delivery of Mailed Ballots

Read a PDF of our statement here.

On behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Public Citizen Litigation Group and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) announced today a settlement in the case NAACP v. United States Postal Service. The lawsuit, pending in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was filed in the summer of 2020 to challenge U.S. Postal Service delivery delays and inadequate measures to ensure timely delivery of mail-in ballots.

The NAACP, the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights grassroots organization, and its members rely on the timely delivery of mail for a variety of important functions, including mail-in voting. Under the settlement, the Postal Service agreed to meet with NAACP in the months before each national primary and general election through 2028 and to provide weekly reports on service performance during the six weeks leading up to general elections.

The Postal Service also will issue guidance documents to address its plans for prioritizing the monitoring and timely delivery of election mail for the national general elections through 2028. The parties expect that these measures will be similar to the “extraordinary measures” used in the weeks leading up to the 2020 general election. Those measures, which the court required the Postal Service to implement in response to motions by the NAACP, helped to ensure that the vast majority of mailed ballots were delivered to the boards of elections in time to be counted.

“The litigation against the Postal Service during last year’s election season had a significant impact on the timely delivery of mailed ballots. 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,” said Allison Zieve, director of Public Citizen Litigation Group. “The settlement helps to guard against politicization of mail delivery and facilitates citizens’ ability to exercise the fundamental right to vote.”

“This is a historic settlement in a historic case,” said Sam Spital, LDF’s Director of Litigation. “Tens of millions of Americans rely on mail-in voting to participate in our democracy, and they depend upon the prompt and reliable delivery of election mail for their voice to be heard. We filed this suit because of serious concerns that delays in mail delivery could effectively disenfranchise voters in the November 2020 election, and our suit resulted in USPS implementing court-ordered ‘extraordinary measures’ for the timely delivery of ballots. Today’s settlement ensures that USPS will similarly undertake efforts to prioritize the delivery of ballots in future national elections.”

Provisions of the settlement requiring the Postal Service to publicly issue guidance documents, to meet with NAACP, and to provide data will be enforceable in court.

“When we fight, we win. Ballot box or mailbox, a vote is a vote, and each vote is sacred. No one, including the USPS, should ever stand in the way of our constitutional rights. With the NAACP’s ability to now monitor the performance of the USPS during national elections, we will ensure that the right to vote is protected for of all citizens, including those often suppressed. This is an unprecedented victory for civil rights,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP.