This Q&A for Colorado voters will be updated weekly.
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 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.
U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez issued an order late Saturday to halt the mailings, and the Postal Service asked that he reconsider the order on Sunday. Martinez declined to do so Monday. The Postal Service said it already delivered 75% of the mailers.
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Read on for more information.
What if I’ve moved?
This link also will allow you to change your address.
What if my name changed?
You’ll need to fill out this form 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 GoVoteColorado 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.
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. Check with your county clerk’s office for information on when they will send out mail ballots.
How do I know if my ballot was received?
Voters statewide may sign up to track your ballot online. 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. A dozen Colorado counties already offered ballot tracking, so if you’re already signed up, there’s no need to do it again.
What if I don’t get my ballot?
Check GoVoteColorado to see if your ballot has been mailed. 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% 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.