5 Reasons to Be Wary of Voting Materials That Come in the Mail

Last updated December 19, 2013

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(Dated: October 19, 2010)

This election season, millions of American voters are receiving what seem to be helpful election materials in their mailboxes.  But nonpartisan voter rights organizations warn citizens to exercise extreme caution with unsolicited mailers. 

Time and again, mailers produced by political parties and partisan groups have been arriving to election officials with errors that will prevent you from casting your vote in this fall’s election - or they’re not showing up at all.  Several of these groups have used Long Distance Voter's name and materials in such a way that it looked as though it we were somehow affiliated with them.  (Our Partners Page lists groups we proudly work with; if a group is not on this list, they are not affiliated with us.)

Here are five ways to avoid problems at the polls caused by errors found in non-official mailers:

1. Voter registration forms must be sent to your secretary of state — otherwise, you won’t be registered to vote.

Don’t return your voter registration application to a specific political party’s headquarters. In Alabama, return addresses for voter registration mailers were mistakenly listed as the Republican National Committee’s headquarter address.  For easy, reliable voter registration, go to Rock the Vote — they’re the top nonpartisan voter resource to help voters register correctly online.

Wrong return addresses are the most common mistake seen on mailers. Here are two more examples:

2. Make sure your absentee ballot application is sent to the correct county clerk’s office.

In Maine, the media recently reported that thousands of voters received applications from the Republican Party that were return addressed to the wrong county clerk, creating mass confusion for them when applications began pouring in for voters outside of their jurisdiction.

If you need help finding or double-checking your clerk’s address, Long Distance Voter links to every county’s correct address at the bottom of each state’s voter guide.

3. Never send any voting materials to an unidentified PO Box.

In Wisconsin, voters received mailers from the Wisconsin Republican Party, which included an absentee application with a return address to an unknown PO Box located in a different city than their country clerk. When in doubt, check. Your vote depends on it. 

You can find a link to your county’s correct address at the bottom of each state’s voter guide.

4. Always enclose any personal information you’re mailing in an envelope.

In Arizona, the national branch of the RNC mailed many voters an “early voting” application in the form of a postcard with no secure envelope, even though the application asks for sensitive personal information. Though they weren’t responsible for the mailer, both Long Distance Voter and the Arizona County Clerks’ offices were inundated by angry emails and phone calls from citizens concerned about the threat of identify theft. Official election mailers will always advise voters to enclose applications in an envelope.

5. You may already be registered — but you should check.

If you believe you may have a problem with your registration, it only takes a minute to verify it. Some of you who have received these mailers were already registered voters, and some of you may have submitted forms that were faulty or went to the wrong address. Luckily, it’s never been easier to verify your registration before election day.

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