Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, is raising concerns that President Donald Trump’s reluctance to fund the U.S. Postal Service will suppress votes in Colorado and other states that rely on vote-by-mail.
“He’s trying to affect turnout in November by undermining a system that we know works, and works well for Democrats and Republicans and, of course, independents,” Griswold said.
Trump indicated in an interview with Fox Business Network Thursday that one reason he hasn’t reached a deal with Democrats on more coronavirus aid is in part because they are pushing for federal funds for the USPS to expand vote by mail.
“If we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money. That means they can't have universal mail-in voting. They just can't have it," Trump said.
Colorado is one of several all-mail ballot states to receive letters from the Postal Service indicating that ballots, usually sent by clerks via “marketing mail” but treated like first class, will no longer get that treatment and could be slower to make it to people’s mailboxes.
Mail Voting in Colorado
Griswold said the Colorado election model is “safeguarded” from a possible delivery slow down. Ballots are sent out weeks ahead of time and voters are asked to mail in them back at least eight days before Election Day.
Colorado also has a new law in place this year that requires replacement ballots to be sent via first-class mail.
“That was a piece of legislation that we thought we needed, and now we are really glad and realize the extent that we did need that piece of legislation,” Griswold said.
Another aspect of the state’s election system that Griswold said will protect against potential Postal Service slowdowns are ballot drop boxes.
“Most Coloradans who vote their mail ballot will return them to a drop box,” she said.
Her office is using federal CARES money to add 100 more before Election Day in November.
Drop boxes have become another point of contention, as many states look for ways to minimize human interaction in voting during the pandemic, while Republican skeptics raise concerns about the potential for fraud.
Colorado’s system has not been entirely without problems. In February, the Mesa County Clerk’s office discovered more than 500 uncollected ballots that had languished in a drop box since the previous election.
At a virtual press conference with reporters Thursday, Griswold defended mail-in voting and praised her predecessor, Republican Wayne Williams, for the work he did setting up the system.
“We know how to have accessible elections that are secure,” Griswold said. “One of the reasons we are such a secure state is that we use those mail ballots. Russia cannot hack a piece of paper.”