According to the US Code Title 18 Section 595:

Whoever, being a person employed in any administrative position by the United States, or by any department or agency thereof...uses his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

I'm not a legal expert, but as far as I can tell, Postmaster DeJoy is a person employed by the United States government, is using his official authority as leader of the USPS, for the purpose of affecting the 2020 presidential elections by reducing the capabilities of the USPS to process mail-in ballots. Am I missing something here, or are his actions indeed a violation of federal law?

1 Answer 1


Probably not

There's a difference between knowing DeJoy is guilty, and proving he is guilty. The first is a matter of your personal views on epistemology; the second is a matter of law.

The statute says an official cannot use "his official authority for the purpose of interfering with..."

In other words, in order to charge DeJoy, the government needs evidence that he is making these changes for the purpose of interfering with the election. According to news reports, DeJoy claims his purpose is legitimate: To balance the USPS budgets. He claims the PO is losing so much money that drastic cuts are required unless Congress increases funding.

Given that the USPS is running a deficit, it will very hard to prove that DeJoy's explanation is just a smokescreen, that his real purpose is to screw up the election. So, unless there is a smoking gun, it seems likely he would not be charged, let alone found guilty.

Note: Edited for clarity in light of comments

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    The element of many mundane laws includes intent, murder for example. Mind reading is not needed to establish intent/purpose. Aug 20, 2020 at 18:51
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    @GeorgeWhite indeed, mind reading is not necessary, but something is necessary to establish purpose. It's not impossible, but in the absence of some sort of "smoking gun" evidence in the form of a message or recording in which the purpose was discussed, it is notoriously difficult.
    – phoog
    Aug 20, 2020 at 19:08
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    I understand this would be hard to prove but, by analogy, intent in murder rarely has a phone message as evidence. It is inferred from actions. Aug 20, 2020 at 19:33
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    @GeorgeWhite Thanks, as always. I edited it in light of your comments. I hope that make it clearer. (The difference to murder in that there's seldom a legitimate purpose for killing someone.)
    – Just a guy
    Aug 20, 2020 at 20:25
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    True about murder but intent -> murder can make a big difference in punishment. Aug 20, 2020 at 20:28

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