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Post office will allow voter registration forms and absentee ballots in lobbies

The clarification comes after a fight between a non-partisan group and the U.S. postal service.

HOUSTON — After a much-publicized fight between a non-partisan civic engagement group and the U.S. Postal Service over the display of blank voter registration cards in Harris County-area retail lobbies, the USPS said Friday it is issuing a clarifying internal guidance to allow voter registration forms and absentee ballots in the lobbies of its retail facilities. 

The clarifying guidance and the resolution of the issue, came after two members of the Texas Congressional Delegation, Reps. Sylvia Garcia and Al Green, both Democrats representing areas of Houston, sent a letter to the leaders of the Houston Post Office asking why at least two dozen boxes with blank voter registration cards distributed by the League of Women Voters of Houston were either discarded or returned by various post office locations in the Harris County area.

The League of Women Voters of Houston told KHOU 11 that by the League’s count, nearly 50 boxes with voter registration information were thrown out or returned, and about 20 were still on display, after LWV volunteers distributed the materials in mid-August.

In the September 18 letter addressed to Reps Garcia and Green, the USPS Government Relations Representative Cory D. Brown based in Washington D.C. said, “effective immediately… postmaster or installation heads are authorized to allow the placement of voter registration forms and absentee ballot request forms in the Post Office Box lobbies of retail facilities, provided there is adequate space available for such materials.”

“The Postal Service will immediately relay this new guidance to district managers and will follow up with written communication to postmasters and installation heads,” Brown went on to say in the letter.

“This is a win for democracy, a win for representative government, a win for people at ballot box and a win for representative democracy,” said Annie Johnson Benifield, VP of Voter Services for the League of Women Voters of Houston. “It fits in line with the League’s mission to empower voters and defend democracy.”

Johnson Benifield said the League anticipate delivering voter registration cards to the post offices in Harris County as soon as possible.

KHOU 11 reached out to Reps’ Garcia and Green’s offices for comment and will update the story when the Representatives are available.

KHOU 11 reached out to the Houston-area USPS spokesperson for comment. It is as follows: 

"The Postal Service is providing clarifying guidance that is being communicated to retail facilities nationwide. While our regulations generally prohibit the deposit of any pamphlets or other literature on postal property, Postmasters or installation heads are permitted to allow the deposit of voter registration forms and absentee ballot request forms in the Post Office Box lobby area of retail facilities if there is adequate space available for such materials."