The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to destroy any undelivered flyers containing incorrect information about mail-in ballots in Colorado and to consult with state elections officials before putting out any future guidance on voting as part of a settlement announced Friday.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, sued the USPS last weekend after it delivered thousands of flyers about mail-in voting that incorrectly said Colorado voters must request a ballot to vote by mail.
Every registered voter in Colorado receives a ballot in the mail. Griswold accused the agency, which has been in hot water for changes to its operations that slowed down mail delivery ahead of the November election, of attempting to suppress the vote.
A federal judge on Saturday night ordered the Postal Service to stop delivering the flyers. The judge, William J. Martinez, said the flyers would “sow confusion amongst voters by delivering a contradictory message.”
The USPS asked Martinez to reconsider this week, but he refused.
Griswold and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser applauded the settlement.
“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,” Griswold said in a written statement. “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.”
Weiser, also a Democrat, echoed Griswold’s sentiment.
“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,” he said in a written statement of his own.
Colorado’s lawsuit against the USPS has been withdrawn in light of the settlement.
The USPS says it has already delivered about 75% of the flyers it printed for Coloradans.
Under the settlement, Colorado has the right to temporarily block the release of any new USPS material on voting that could confuse Coloradans and, if necessary, seek court review.
Colorado will begin mailing ballots to registered voters on Oct. 9.
Meanwhile, a federal judge in U.S. District Court in Yakima, Washington, on Thursday issued an order blocking the Postal Service from implementing changes that have slowed down mail nationwide. The order came after Colorado and 13 other states sued the USPS to prevent it from moving forward with more alterations.
The coalition of states challenged the Postal Service’s so-called “leave-behind” policy, where trucks have been leaving postal facilities on time regardless of whether there is more mail to load. They also sought to force the Postal Service to treat election mail as first-class mail.
After a hearing, Judge Stanley Bastian noted that President Donald Trump had repeatedly attacked voting by mail by making unfounded claims that it is rife with fraud. Many more voters are expected to vote by mail this November because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the states have expressed concern that delays might result in voters not receiving ballots or registration forms in time.
“The states have demonstrated the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service,” Bastian said.
He also said the changes created “a substantial possibility many voters will be disenfranchised.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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