(Reuters) - U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has halted a controversial cost-cutting program that slowed mail delivery ahead of the Nov. 3 elections, which could see a doubling in the number of ballots cast by mail because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Lawsuits filed to block the moves revealed details about the scale of the planned cuts:
* The Postal Service had planned to remove 671 mail sorting machines nationwide, including 502 delivery barcode sorting machines capable of processing 35,000 pieces of mail per hour, by Sept. 30.
* As of Aug. 16 it had already decommissioned 95% of its target, according to a lawsuit filed jointly by the Urban League, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters.
* Overall DeJoy’s plans would have decommissioned 10% of the sorting machines in Postal Service’s inventory, the lawsuit said, citing Postal Service planning documents.
* Postal Service officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The following are state-by-state cuts highlighted in a lawsuit filed by the state of Washington, including in the election battlegrounds of Michigan and Wisconsin:
* Michigan said the loss of machinery in a Pontiac facility has reduced processing capacity by 394,000 pieces of mail per hour.
* Wisconsin projected that seven of 36 mail sorting machines at a Milwaukee distribution center will be removed, and said staff shortages mean one worker rather than two now operates each.
* Washington state said three of five processing facilities are no longer processing outgoing mail, and the Postal Service is in the process of removing eight mail sorting machines.
* Colorado said six mail sorting machines are being removed.
* Connecticut expects 18 mail sorting machines will be removed by the election.
* Illinois said the Postal Service is in the process of removing 28 mail sorting machines, including 15% of all delivery bar code sorters.
* Maryland said the Postal Service removed six mail processing machines in early August.
* Minnesota said at least 20 mail sorting machines have been or are being decommissioned. It said 10 letter-sorting machines can process 5 million pieces of mail a day.
* Nevada said at least four mail sorting machines have been removed.
* New Mexico said four mail sorting machines are being removed.
(This story corrects name of League of Women Voters in paragraph 4)
Compiled by Jonathan Stempel and Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.