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Colorado Sues Postal Service For Alleged Misinformation In Flyers On Mail-In Voting

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The U.S. Postal Service recently sent postcards to every residential address and post office box in the country, providing general guidance on how to vote by mail in the upcoming election. Colorado's secretary of state sued over that postcard, calling it misinformation. Colorado Public Radio's Paolo Zialcita reports.

PAOLO ZIALCITA, BYLINE: Forty-seven-year-old real estate investor Aaron Hoffman has lived in Grand Junction for 11 years. When he received the Postal Service's mailer, he initially thought it was meant to reassure people that voting by mail is safe and secure. But then he got to the part that said you have to request a mail-in ballot 15 days before Election Day.

AARON HOFFMAN: Now, at that point, I just kind of thought, OK, I know this isn't really applicable to us 'cause we'll be receiving our ballots regardless.

ZIALCITA: Here in Colorado, voters don't have to request ballots. All registered active voters in the state are automatically mailed one. Hoffman says that while he may have caught the error, a new voter in Colorado might not have. That's why Secretary of State Jena Griswold sued the Postal Service. She says the postcard contains two pieces of misinformation.

JENA GRISWOLD: The first was - is that they urge Coloradans to request a mail ballot or an absentee ballot 15 days before election. You don't have to do that in Colorado. You just have to register to vote and you're sent a mail ballot. The second piece of misinformation had to do with when Coloradans had to return the ballot through the mail. The USPS suggested seven days before Election Day, and the state of Colorado actually suggests eight days before Election Day.

ZIALCITA: A federal judge has ruled in favor of Griswold's request for a temporary restraining order that bans the Postal Service from sending more election mailers. Seventy-five percent of mailers were already delivered to Colorado households. Postal officials challenged the restraining order, saying the court acted prematurely because it didn't hold a formal hearing. But the judge turned down their request. They say the mailer was meant to inform a wide range of voters and that each recipient should research their own state's policies about mail-in ballots.

Griswold intends to take it a step further. She says the Postal Service should set the record straight. Tomorrow, a court hearing will be held to determine whether the USPS will pay for a new mailer, this time with information accurate for Coloradans.

For NPR News, I'm Paolo Zialcita in Denver.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOUR TET'S "TWO THOUSAND AND SEVENTEEN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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