The U.S. Postal Service is sending out inaccurate mail ballot information to residents of several states, which could further snarl a system already facing overwhelming demand amid the COVID-19 crisis, Colorado’s secretary of state said Friday.
The USPS is sending postcard notices to addresses and post office boxes of registered voters, urging them to request mail-in ballots early. But several states already have a system in place that automatically sends ballots to all registered voters, noted Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold in a series of tweets. For residents in those states, the “information is not just confusing, it’s WRONG,” she said.
She said that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy ignored requests from secretaries of state to review any notices to ensure their accuracy before they went out.
The notices also tell people to get their ballots back at least seven days before Election Day — while Colorado tells its voters to do so at least eight days in advance. In addition, the USPS urges voters to request a mail-in ballot at least 15 days before Nov. 3, which it terms “early,” but which actually is cutting it close, given mounting delays in mail service.
Griswold called the latest tangle “beyond suspect,” adding: “Confusing voters about mail ballots in the middle of a pandemic is unacceptable. It can undermine confidence in the election & suppress votes.”
A USPS spokesperson told Denver NBC affiliate KUSA Channel 9 TV that the postcards mailed to all voters are part of an information campaign.
“The non-partisan campaign neither encourages nor discourages mail-in voting,” said representative David Rupert. “Rather, it is designed to reach and inform all voters about the importance of planning ahead if they plan to vote by mail.”
He did not address the inaccuracies in the postcard information, but added that voters who choose to use the mail are encouraged to contact their states or “visit our educational website.”
President Donald Trump has already declared, without any evidence, that the election will be the “most corrupt” in U.S. history because of the anticipated wide use of mail-in ballots as voters seek to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19. Trump and first lady Melania Trump, however, recently voted by mail in the Florida primary.
Critics accuse Trump of attacking mail-in balloting as part of his strategy to manipulate the election in his favor by suppressing the vote.
But the president is also sowing doubts about the process so that in the event of his loss to Democratic nominee Joe Biden, he could challenge the result by claiming widespread fraud, critics predict.
In the meantime, DeJoy — a prominent Trump campaign contributor — appears to be crippling the U.S. Postal Service operation ahead of the election by ripping out hundreds of mail-sorting machines and letter collection boxes, and eliminating overtime and extended mail deliveries.