Mailers meant to help voters with the absentee voting process amid the ongoing pandemic are instead sowing confusion for voters and leading some officials to levy allegations of attempted voter suppression ahead of the November election.
In New Hampshire, Democrats have called for a full investigation into the state's Republican party mailing of absentee registration request packets to voters with incorrect return addresses. Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, a Republican, said in an initial review that he'd spoken with the GOP state committee and determined the mailer had a "printing error."
In response, Democratic Party attorney William Christie wrote a letter to MacDonald's office asking for a deeper investigation.
"The Attorney General's Office or its designee should obtain all relevant documents and information regarding the mailer from both the Republican State Committee and its mail vendor," Christie wrote in a letter obtained by CNN.
Christie's letter also requested that a planned second mailing by Republicans be reviewed by the state, and noted that Durham has also been the target of prior voter suppression efforts.
"We request that the State take appropriate action to mitigate this interference with the Election," wrote Christie in the letter obtained by CNN.
A spokesperson for the Republican party said that officials reached out to the attorney general's office and the Postal Service once they realized the mailers listed Durham, New Hampshire, as the return city for all mailers.
Durham officials are working with MacDonald's office to notify the correct city or town clerks when Durham receives the requests, according to the spokesperson.
Distributing absentee ballot requests on time and successfully getting the official ballot to voters has been a growing problem as the ongoing coronavirus crisis prompts millions of voters to seek mail-in ballots. States failed to get thousands of absentee ballots to voters in recent primary elections, raising concerns ahead of the November election.
In the District of Columbia, a design flaw in a mailer meant to help register voters ahead of the city's plan to mail everyone an absentee ballot prompted the Board of Elections to tweet out revised instructions for taping pieces of the mailer together before returning it, according to the Washington Post.
DC along with nine states plans to send every registered voter an absentee ballot ahead of the November election. Election officials sent the mailer in an attempt to verify addresses but according to the instructions, voters were directed to tear the mailers along perforated lines and in doing so detached crucial identifying information, according to the paper.
Adding to the already growing confusion are third party mailers from outside voting groups.
A mailing to 500,000 people in Virginia by the Washington, DC, based Center for Voter Information contained a return envelope addressed to the wrong election office.
"We know that voters are on high alert as the November election approaches, and we regret adding to any confusion. Please rest assured that we are working with local election officials in Virginia to re-direct the vote-by-mail applications to the proper locations, and will rectify any errors at our own expense," the group said in a statement issued last Thursday.
Georgia voters experienced the same confusion over the unsolicited mailings last week when an outside organization, The Patriots Foundation, a self-proclaimed watchdog group, conducted a nonpartisan voter turnout effort in various states around the country.
Nonetheless, these mailings are concerning at a time when the US Postal Service is dealing with delays in deliveries and cuts in overtime and as President Donald Trump tries to undermine the vote-by-mail process.
"Voters should rely only on official election information from their state or local election officials, particularly in this age of disinformation. When looking for any information about the elections, find your local or state election office website and start there," said David Becker, founder of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research.