A Colorado Court Had To Order USPS To Stop Sending Out 'Misleading' Postcards About Mail-In Ballots
Government officials in multiple states are now scrambling to give people the correct information on voting by mail.
September 17, 2020 at 2:48 pm
Outrage is again swirling around the U.S. Postal Service and Postmaster Louis DeJoy after officials in several states got hold of a misleading postcard being sent out by the government agency, according to Reuters.
The U.S. Postal Service recently kickstarted a voter outreach effort that involved sending out postcards with information about how to vote by mail. To the dismay of states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Hawaii, California and others, the postcards containing false or misleading information about local rules around the voting procedure.
“State and local elections officials have had to spend a significant amount of time correcting election misinformation and disinformation. This USPS postcard, without input from elections officials, does not help,” California’s secretary of state Alex Padilla told Reuters.
A federal court in Colorado has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to stop sending the postcards out because of what U.S. Judge William Martinez called “false or misleading information” in them.
Colorado's Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who took the issue to court, said in a statement to CBS8, “What these lawsuits are about is actually asking a judge to tell the postal service to not send this postcard, which contains misinformation on elections.”
The postcards were sent out nationwide last week and say that voters must ask for mail-in ballots at least 15 days before the election. This is not true for multiple states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Hawaii and California, which all send ballots to every registered voter automatically.
Other -- but not all -- states have put in place special rules because of the COVID-19 pandemic that allow people to receive ballots without request.
According to Reuters, state officials in Maryland and West Virginia said the postcard's information did not align with their state rules.
U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Martha Johnson defended the postcards, saying the government simply wanted to "provide guidance."
“The intention of the mailer was to send a single set of recommendations that provided general guidance allowing voters who choose mail-in voting to do so successfully, regardless of where they live and where they vote,” Johnson said to Reuters.
Local news outlets spoke to multiple people on Monday who said the mailers confused them because they conflicted with what state officials were saying.
National City, California resident Ann Woods told CBS8 that even she was aware that the information on the postcards was not correct.
“I was really confused by this because I think some of it actually isn't correct for California,” Woods said.
Padilla spoke to CBS8 as well, telling the news outlet that they are now working with the U.S. Postal Service to try and limit the amount of confusion.
“Given the inconsistencies between the guidance offered on the USPS postcard and California Elections law, I’m deeply concerned about the potential for voter confusion. Our office is in regular communication with USPS, and will be working with them to prevent further confusion of voters, but all options remain on the table,” Padilla said.
Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton released a statement to local outlet KREM warning them about the false information on the post card.
According to a press release from the state, two of the five recommendations on the postcards does not apply to Washington residents.
“While elections officials throughout the county and state level appreciate the desire to help, this mailer was not vetted with us. Washington election officials and local USPS representatives were not aware of the mailer until the postcard began appearing in mailboxes on Friday, Sept. 11,” Dalton said.
DeJoy has faced more than a month of harsh criticism for his cost-cutting actions that disrupted mail for weeks and raised concerns that he was intentionally disrupting the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the election in November.
Head here to see how your state is handling mail-in ballots.