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Colorado Secretary Of State Sues The U.S. Postal Service Over Election Mailer

Secretary of State Jena Griswold is suing to try to stop a United States Postal Service notice from arriving in Coloradans’ mailboxes over the next several days.

The mailer, which was sent to every residential address and P.O. Box in the country, provides general guidance for U.S. citizens who plan to vote by mail in 2020, promising “a secure, effective way to deliver your ballot.” 

But Griswold is concerned the mailer will confuse people about how to vote by mail in Colorado since the information from the Postal Service is not specific to Colorado’s voting process. She said it has the potential to make voters “wrongly believe that they may not participate in the upcoming election.”

In Colorado, all active registered voters will be mailed a ballot, whether they request one or not. Ballots are currently set to go out Oct. 9. The Postal Service mailer instructs people to request a ballot at least 15 days before the election ends, but Griswold emphasizes in her lawsuit that it is not necessary to request a ballot here. People who don’t receive a ballot because they have moved, the ballot gets lost, or for some other reason, can request a replacement or vote in person up through Election Day. 

Eligible Coloradans can also register to vote in person on Election Day. Griswold is concerned that the Postal Service mailer recommends a deadline by which to return ballots, which is not necessarily accurate since Coloradans can return ballots to drop boxes through Election Day.

Griswold’s lawsuit comes after months of national debate over the role of mailed ballots in the 2020 election. Many states are expanding vote-by-mail significantly in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, whereas Colorado has mailed ballots to all registered voters since 2013.

Griswold has repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump about his critiques and false statements about mailed ballots and voting by mail. She threatened to sue Trump earlier this week after he encouraged voters to test the security of vote-by-mail systems.

Her lawsuit attempting to stop the Postal Service mailer calls it an “attempt at voter suppression.” 

U.S. Postal Spokesman Dave Partenheimer said in an email that “it is absolutely not an attempt to suppress voting. Quite to the contrary, we are simply trying to educate our customers who decide to use the mail to vote how to do so effectively.”  

He said that the “main message” of the mailer is that “voters should plan ahead, educate themselves about voting options available in their jurisdiction, and, if they choose to vote by mail, to give themselves enough time to receive, complete and return their ballot.” He noted that the mailer directs people to a website where they can click through to their state’s election information.

Partenheimer said the mailer has already reached many Americans and is set to be delivered to everyone by the end of the coming week.

US Postal Service mailer election 2020Rachel Estabrook/CPR News The front of the U.S. Postal Service mailer that Coloradans will receive in Sept. 2020.

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