This year will mark the first time Coloradans can vote for president entirely by mail.
County clerks started mailing ballots out to registered active voters across the state yesterday, which means a ballot could hit your mailbox as early as tomorrow.
How many questions will be on your particular ballot depends on where you live. Everyone in Colorado who gets a ballot will be able to vote for president, U.S. Senate, and an at-large candidate for the University of Colorado Board of Regents.
Every voter will also be asked about nine statewide ballot measures that range from whether you want universal healthcare in Colorado to whether you think terminally ill patients should be allowed to obtain medication to end their own lives.
Voters will also be asked to cast ballots on issues specific to where they live, such as local tax increases, school bonds, broadband internet access, and, of course, local candidates for county commissions, the state House of Representatives and state Senate.
What is my ballot going to look like?
Your ballot will come from your county election office in an official-looking sturdy envelope with the words “Official ballot enclosed” on the front.
Unlike an important transfer letter saying your mortgage has been sold to another company, you likely will not mistake your Colorado ballot for junk mail.
What’s a good link to check my registration status?
You should do that right now. The link is here.
You’ll want to find out if you’re considered an “active” or “inactive” voter— that’s a big deal with ballots coming out in the mail. In Colorado, “active” voters are registered voters who have an address that the Secretary of State’s office can confirm with a mailing. “Inactive” voters are voters who don’t appear to live at the address the state has on record. “Both are eligible to vote,” says Secretary of State spokeswoman Lynn Bartels, but her office can’t send a ballot to an inactive voter because officials know the address is wrong and ballots are not forwardable. If you’re an inactive voter, update your registration before Oct. 31 to receive a ballot by mail. Otherwise, the ballot won’t come to you — expect to head to your polling place on election day.
What are the 9 ballot measures I’ll see?
They will have technical names, like “Constitutional Amendment 69,” and they will be described. Actually, you already should have gotten something called a “2016 Ballot Information Booklet” in the mail, commonly called the Blue Book, which outlines the statewide, non-local questions that will appear on this year’s ballot. If you didn’t already toss it out, you can consult that booklet, as well as news coverage or whatever else you’ll use to make your decision.
Constitutional Amendment 69 is the ColoradoCare universal healthcare ballot measure.
Constitutional Amendment 70 asks if you want to raise the minimum wage in Colorado to $12.
Constitutional Amendment 71 would make it harder to pass future constitutional amendments.
Constitutional Amendment 72 increases the cigarette tax in Colorado.
Constitutional Amendment T removes language in the state’s constitution that allows slavery.
Constitutional Amendment U would scrap property taxes for businesses and people who use government-owned property for private use for less than $6,000.
Prop 106 would allow terminally ill patients should be allowed to obtain medication to end their lives.
Prop 107 would bring the presidential primary process back to Colorado.
Prop 108 would let the state’s largest voting bloc, unaffiliated voters, participate in party primaries outside of the presidential election and allow political parties to opt out of holding primaries and do nominations by conventions instead.
How many candidates for president will be on Colorado’s ballot?
A lot. Like, more than 20.
That’s because it’s pretty easy to get on the ballot for president in Colorado. Someone can get on with $1,000 and nine registered voters willing to be so-called electors.
Why do we vote by mail in Colorado anyway?
In 2013, state lawmakers passed a package of new election laws. Interestingly, the new laws came just as a rash of restrictive Republican-led voter ID bills flurried around other state capitols, making Colorado stand out as a place where the Democrat-controlled legislature enacted new laws to make it easier, not harder, to vote.
When you’re ready to vote, you can either drop off your ballot or mail it in. If you mail it, postage costs 68 cents — you can just use two stamps — and your ballot must arrive by 7 p.m. on election day. Plan accordingly.
The new laws also allow Coloradans to register to vote on Election Day so they can cast a ballot.
So if I’m not registered now, I still have time?
That’s right. If you’re a real procrastinator you can register on Election Day and still vote.
Should I vote as soon as I get my ballot?
That’s up to you!
But one thing some campaigns in Colorado like to point out is that the sooner you vote, the sooner those campaigns will stop inundating you will phone calls, door stops and mailers trying to woo your vote. Campaigns check every day to see which households have turned in their ballots (it’s public information), and they don’t want to waste resources on a voter who has already cast a ballot.
Why is Election Day not the first Tuesday of the month this year?
As we’ve reported, this Election Day will be only the fourth in a century when this has happened.
From The Indy’s Marianne Goodland:
Election Day is often referred to as the first Tuesday in November, but it’s actually the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. That means Election Day can fall anywhere between Nov. 2 and Nov. 8. The 2016 presidential election will be the latest on the calendar since 1988 and is only the seventh time in our nation’s history that a presidential Election Day has fallen on Nov. 8.
So, an extra week might turn an October surprise into a November surprise.
Photo by Upupa4me for Creative Commons on Flickr.