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USPS agrees to destroy unsent mailers containing inaccurate voting information for Coloradans

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Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 9:53 AM MDT
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DENVER (KKTV) -

UPDATE (9/18): The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to destroy all remaining mailers once intended for Colorado voters, which the state says contained inaccurate election information.

The secretary of state’s office announced Friday it had reached a settlement with USPS and was asking the court to dismiss an earlier lawsuit.

“I am pleased with the settlement we reached today with the U.S. Postal Service. Voters deserve accurate election information. The terms of the settlement mandate that all reasonable effort be taken to remove all undelivered misleading mailers from the mail stream, and it requires collaboration between the Colorado Department of State and the USPS to make sure all future postal service communication includes correct information. I look forward to working with the U.S. Postal Service to ensure every Colorado voter is equipped with the information they need to successfully participate in the Nov. 3 election. I appreciate the partnership of Attorney General Weiser to achieve this positive outcome,” Griswold said in an emailed statement.

The mailers in question instructed voters to request a mail ballot at least 15 days before the election and return their ballots by mail at least seven days before the election, which is not correct. The secretary of state’s office asked the USPS not to send the mailer and filed the lawsuit when the postal service wouldn’t definitively agree. A federal judge sided with Colorado and issued a temporary restraining order earlier this week to stop the flyers from going out. USPS had asked the judge to reconsider.

The secretary of state’s office released the following information about the settlement:

According to the settlement filed with the federal court in Denver, the postal service agreed to have the attorney general and secretary of state preview national media materials related to elections, and gave Colorado the right to temporarily block the release of any material that will confuse Colorado voters and, if necessary, seek court review. In addition, the postal service agreed to give the attorney general and secretary of state the right to improve the postal service’s national voting website (usps.com/votinginfo) and, if the postal service proposes making changes that will confuse Colorado voters, Colorado can seek court review.

Because of the benefits that Colorado voters will gain from these commitments from the federal government, the state asked the court to dismiss its case against the postal service. The settlement ends litigation on this matter, but the agreement does not prevent the state from going to court to raise any objection in the future.

I appreciate the postal service’s recognition of the importance of working with states to ensure that voters receive accurate information about using the mail for voting. I will continue to fight for Colorado to prevent the postal service, or any agency, from hindering Coloradans' right to vote and am pleased we reached an agreement that results in the misleading notices being destroyed and giving Colorado the unprecedented ability to review and improve future media campaigns by the postal service related to elections. I want to thank Secretary Griswold and her team as well as the dedicated professionals in our office who worked hard on this matter over the past week,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

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PREVIOUS (9/14): A judge agreed with Colorado officials to stop a nationally-distributed flyer from being mailed to voters in Colorado.

The flyers reportedly state that voters must request a mail ballot at least 15 days before the election and return their ballots by mail at least seven days before the election, which is not how Colorado does things. In Colorado, every registered voter receives a mail ballot.

U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez sided with Colorado in a lawsuit filed by Secretary of State Jena Griswold Saturday and issued a temporary restraining order stopping the mailings, stating the notices will sow confusion among voters.

Griswold’s office issued the following statement regarding the mailers and the lawsuit.

"On Thursday, my office received notice that the United States Postal Service would be sending out a national pre-election mailer to every household in America that contains incorrect election information for Colorado. The mailer incorrectly asks that voters request a mail ballot 15 days before the election and return their ballots by mail at least seven days before the election. In Colorado, every registered voter is sent a ballot without having to make a request and voters are urged to return ballots by mail sooner than seven days before the election. My office asked USPS officials to delay or not send the mailer in Colorado, but they refused to commit to that.

"As the chief election official of the state of Colorado, it’s my job to try to stop misinformation and any unnecessary election confusion. The importance of this election, combined with the fact it is being held amidst a national pandemic, further heightens the need to provide correct voting information to Coloradans. That is why I am filing a lawsuit against the USPS to cease this mailer and help shield Colorado voters from this misinformation.”

The U.S. Postal Service has reportedly asked the judge to reconsider.

Monday, Griswold’s office announced that voters will be able to track the status of their ballots this year through phone, email or text.

“I’m happy to announce that for the first time, every Colorado voter will have access to ballot tracking, to be able to see when ballots are sent to when they are processed,” Griswold said in a statement. “This new program is one of the many ways that Colorado continually innovates to ensure our elections are the best in the nation.”

Some Colorado counties have already offered ballot tracking in the past. Those in counties taking it up for the first time can click here to sign up.

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