Got voting questions? We’ve got answers

By Sandra Fish
Colorado News Collaborative

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, but registered voters in Colorado will receive mail-in ballots after Oct. 9. With national concern about the veracity of mail-in ballots, Colorado has become a focal point. Colorado began statewide vote by mail in 2013, although some counties used it before that.

Voters and potential voters will have questions about how voter registration works, how mail-in ballots work, how ballots are counted and more. The Colorado News Collaborative and its members, including The Pagosa Springs SUN, want to answer those questions. 

Here’s this week’s big question:

Do I have to request a ballot from my county clerk or the secretary of state?

Not if you’re an active registered voter. County clerks automatically will begin mailing ballots to active registered voters on Oct. 9. A voter is considered active if they’ve voted in the most recent general elections or updated their address or other registration information

A recent nationwide mailer from the U.S. Postal Service insinuates that voters must request mail-in or absentee ballots. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is suing the Postal Service, saying the mailer is misleading and could disenfranchise voters.

A federal judge issued an order late Saturday to halt the mailings, and the Postal Service asked that he reconsider the order on Sunday. On Monday, the Postal Service said it already delivered 75 percent of the mailers.

Find out if you’re registered at www.govotecolorado.gov. And get your Archuleta County information at: http://www.archuletacounty.org/192/Elections.

Have a question you want us to answer? Submit it here: https://forms.gle/pCp9yVeKZekLZnPy6.

Read on for more information.

Voting

What if I’ve moved? 

This link will allow you to change your address: https://www.sos.state.co.us/voter/pages/pub/olvr/findVoterReg.xhtml.

What if my name changed?

You’ll need to fill out this form at https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/vote/VoterRegFormEnglish.pdf and take it to your county clerk or mail it to the Colorado secretary of state.

What’s the difference between an “active” voter and an “inactive” voter?

As mentioned above, a voter is considered active if they’ve voted in the most recent elections or updated their address or other registration information. A voter is considered inactive if their county clerk receives returned mail to them marked “undeliverable.”

Under federal law, clerks must wait two general election cycles before removing inactive voters from the database. Again, you may check at www.govotecolorado.gov to see if your registration is active and update your information if it isn’t.

How long do I have to register?

You must register by Oct. 26 to get a ballot in the mail (but you’ll need to return it to a vote center or drop box). But you may register and vote in person at vote centers through 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Ballots

When will I get my ballot in the mail?

The first day ballots may be mailed is Oct. 9, a Friday, and they must be sent out by Oct. 16 at the latest. 

How do I know if my ballot was received?

Voters statewide may sign up to track your ballot online at colorado.ballottrax.net/voter. You’ll get notifications via email, text message or phone (you may choose) when your ballot is mailed, and when it has been received and accepted.

What if I don’t get my ballot?

Check to see if your ballot has been mailed at www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Resources/CountyElectionOffices.html. If it has been mailed and you haven’t received it, contact your county clerk’s office and ask. Not every county will send ballots out the first day possible. But they need to hear from you if you don’t receive yours.

How do I return my ballot?

Ballots must arrive at a vote center or county clerk’s office by 7 p.m. Nov. 3. You may mail your ballot back, if there’s enough time for it to arrive. You may also deliver it to drop boxes at your county clerk’s office or other locations in your county. Beginning Oct. 19, you may deliver it to voter centers staffed by election workers. About 75 percent of Colorado voters return their mail ballots to drop boxes, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Are drop boxes safe from tampering?

Yes, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. They are under 24-hour video surveillance and are emptied every day by a team of bipartisan election judges. The sturdy, metal boxes are bolted to the ground.

If I send my ballot back by mail, will it get there?

The secretary of state recommends delivering ballots in person in the final eight days before the election. If you mail them before that, they should arrive in time. 

I don’t want to vote by mail. I want to vote in person. 

Colorado will open about 330 vote centers beginning Oct. 19. You may vote there in person starting then through 7 p.m. Election Day with some limited weekend hours.

This story was posted on September 22, 2020.