Postal Service Ordered to Stop Sending ‘False’ Voting Mailer

September 14, 2020by Todd Shields, Bloomberg News (TNS)
A mail carrier loads a truck for delivery at a United States post office in Torrance, California, on August 26, 2020. (Christina House/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

A federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to stop sending a notice advising Colorado residents to request mail-in ballots, saying confusion would result because the state automatically mails ballots to voters.

“The notice provides false or misleading information” and residents may wonder if state law has changed and whether their registration has lapsed, U.S. District Judge William Martinez said in a 10-page order issued Sept. 12. Martinez said he was “deeply troubled” by the Postal Service’s conduct as he granted a temporary restraining order and set further proceedings.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, asked the court to stop the mailing in the state, saying in a Sept. 12 complaint that some voters “will be confused by the false statements by the Postal Service and will not vote in the upcoming elections.”

The lawsuit named the Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor who’s been under criticism from Democrats for mail delays ahead of the November election. Because of the coronavirus pandemic the contest is expected to rely heavily on mail-in ballots, which President Donald Trump has characterized without evidence as vulnerable to fraud.

In Colorado, eight other states and the District of Columbia, voters don’t request ballots because one is mailed to every registered voter, Griswold said in a tweet. “But the @USPS is confusing our voters by telling them to request a ballot,” she said.

Secretaries of state asked DeJoy to review a draft to ensure accuracy “but he refused. Now millions of postcards with misinformation are printed & being mailed to voters,” Griswold said.

The Postal Service is reviewing the court’s decision and considering its next steps, Marti Johnson, a Postal Service spokeswoman, said in an email. She called the decision “legally unfounded” because it was issued before the service responded to Griswold’s complaint.

Martinez, the judge, said in his order that irreparable harm occurs as soon as the notice is mailed because a second, correct mailing would leave residents to consider which of the messages to believe.

The Postal Service’s Johnson said the mailer was intended “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.”

The case is Colorado v. DeJoy, 20-cv-2768, in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

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©2020 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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