Bipartisan election officials are warning residents that a postcard sent to all households by the US Postal Service contains inaccurate information about mail-in voting.
Officials in Utah, Nevada and Maryland on Monday joined Colorado in publicly rebuking the USPS mailers, which were intended to help Americans navigate the vote-by-mail process.
The mailers said voters should “request your mail in ballot… at least 15 days before Election Day.” But that isn’t accurate for all states – especially for the millions of Americans living in the nine states and Washington, DC, that automatically mail ballots to every registered voter.
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The official “Vote Utah” Twitter account, run by the office of Republican Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, told residents to ignore the voting instructions from USPS in a series of posts on Monday.
“You may see a mailer from USPS directing you to request a mail-in/absentee ballot,” the tweets said. “UT voters DO NOT need to request a mail-in/absentee ballot. Ballots are automatically mailed to all active registered voters starting 21 days prior to Election Day.”
In Nevada, Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske also said the mailers didn’t accurately explain election procedures, according to KVVU in Las Vegas. Cegavske also said her office wasn’t aware of the postcards before USPS sent them out to all households across the country.
Over the weekend, Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold won a court order over the weekend temporarily blocking USPS from sending any additional mailers in the state. In a Twitter post on Friday, before filing the lawsuit, Griswold said, “When we asked USPS not to send the postcard with misinformation to voters in Colorado they flat out refused.”
Officials in Maryland, which is not an all-mail state, spoke out Monday to say that the USPS postcard was “inconsistent” with local guidance for how to most effectively cast a mail ballot.
“Portions of the postcard message are inconsistent with Maryland vote by mail guidelines. For instance, do not wait until 15 days before Election Day, November 3, to request a mail-in ballot,” the statement said. “…There is no need to wait. Submit your application for a mail-in ballot at your earliest convenience.”
In a statement Monday, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican, said the postcard was “well-intended” but contains “an inaccurate reference to a suggested mailing deadline, which could confuse some voters.”
Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia on Monday criticized the “debacle” with the mailers at a House hearing about USPS and whether the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, has potential conflicts of interests form his past business dealings. DeJoy says he has followed all ethics requirements.
“The postmaster general sent every home in America a mailer instructing all who seek to vote by mail to request a mail-in ballot, sending misinformation and confusing voters in nine states that automatically send out such ballots,,” said Connolly, who runs a subcommittee overseeing USPS. “This debacle could have been avoided.”
USPS defended the mailers in a statement over the weekend.
“Our mail-piece provides general, all-purpose guidance on the use of the mail, and not guidance on state election rules,” USPS spokesman Dave Partenheimer said. “The mail-piece … contains a single set of simple recommendations for voters throughout the nation, regardless of where they live and where they vote. At the same time, we are aware that each state has its own specific rules, deadlines and requirements, and the mail-piece acknowledges that fact.”