CO, USPS Settle Dispute Over Postal Service’s Confusing Vote-By-Mail Advice

Large boxes of envelopes are seen as absentee ballot election workers stuff ballot applications at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 4, 2020. - The US election... Large boxes of envelopes are seen as absentee ballot election workers stuff ballot applications at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 4, 2020. - The US election is officially open: North Carolina on September 4, 2020 launched vote-by-mail operations for the November 3 contest between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden, which is getting uglier by the day. Worries about the unabated spread of the coronavirus are expected to prompt a major increase in the number of ballots cast by mail, as Americans avoid polling stations. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 18, 2020 1:07 p.m.

Well, at least the U.S. Postal Service has been able to resolve one dispute in the several that have emerged around its ability to handle this year’s surge in vote-by-mail.

USPS reached a settlement with Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold— who had gone to court to stop the delivery of confusing absentee voting guidance the postal service was sending — ahead of a hearing scheduled Friday morning in the case.

Under the settlement, USPS will destroy whatever is left of the mailers that had not yet been sent out to Colorado voters. U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez had previously blocked the USPS from sending out more mailers, but by the time he had done so, as many as 2.4 million had been delivered to Coloradans.

As part of the settlement, the agency also agreed to seek input from Colorado’s election officials for any future guidance it gives the public on vote-by-mail, including on any campaign planned for television, radio, print or other media.

USPS had enraged Colorado election officials, and officials in other states, by sending nationwide mailers purporting to give Americans general advice about how to vote by mail. The guidance ran afoul of the specific policies of some states. For instance, it mentioned the need for voters to request absentee ballots, even though several states, including Colorado, proactively send out mail ballots to their voters. The timeline the USPS mailers advised for requesting and sending in mail ballots was also not in line with the standards set forth by certain states.

Embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told secretaries of state Thursday that it was USPS’s “intent” to give them a “heads-up to see the mailer in advance.” But by the time the mailer was provided to election officials for review, it was already being delivered in households.

Read the settlement docs below:

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