AURORA | The clock is ticking out Election 2021, but there’s still time not only to complete your mail-in ballot, but vote in person and even register to vote by 7 p.m. today.
Voter turnout has been slow so far.
As of Monday morning, 60,964 voters in Arapahoe County had turnout in a ballot, 13.25% of the county’s 459,952 registered voters. Tom Skelley, a spokesperson for the clerk and recorder’s office, said that’s lower than it was this time last year. However, he noted that the bulk of votes usually come in within the last few days before the election, and that average turnout in off-years hovers at around 40%.
Unaffiliated voters and registered Democrats have both cast about 21,000 votes, and registered Republicans just under 19,000. The overwhelming majority of votes have been cast by mail ballot.
Statewide 622,223 ballots were returned as of Monday morning, according to the Secretary of State’s office, out of 3.8 million registered voters. Ballots returned are about equally split among unaffiliated voters, and registered Democrats and Republicans.
Jefferson and El Paso counties lead the state in returned ballots so far. Denver, with the largest pool of registered voters, is sixth on the list of ballots returned by counties.
“Ballots must be received by the County Clerk by 7 p.m. on Nov. 2 in order to be counted,” county election officials said in a statement.
Election and postal service officials say it is too late to mail a ballot and have it counted. Ballots must be returned to one of numerous drop-off sites or to select county clerk offices.
All eligible ballots received by 7 p.m. on Election Day are counted.
Additional details on deadlines and voting requirements for the 2021 election cycle can be found here.
When do elections officials start counting our ballots?
Elections officials may start counting ballots 15 days ahead of the election, on Oct. 18. But first, elections officials must verify the voter signature on the envelope. (See below for information about how signatures are verified.) The early counting relieves some of the Election Day crush, but no results will be made public until after polls close at 7 p.m. Nov. 2. Not even elections officials know the results until then because computer software prevents the count from being revealed until after polls close. Even with the head start in the count, full results in super-close contests still might take a few days.
How do I know if I’m registered to vote?
GoVoteColorado has a range of information on registration, including the ability to register to vote if you have a Colorado driver’s license or ID card.
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?
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 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. 25 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.
What signature is used to validate the one on my returned ballot envelope? My signature has changed over time.
The most recent signature on a state transaction is used as a reference — typically a recent driver’s license or the signature on the last ballot you returned. All past signatures are available for election judges to review.
If election judges question your signature, you’ll get a notice from your clerk within three days (two if it occurs on Election Day) and you’ll have eight days to verify the signature is yours.
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. 8. Again, a voter is considered active if they’ve voted in the most recent general elections or updated their address or other registration information.
When will I get my ballot in the mail?
The first day ballots may be mailed is Oct. 8, a Friday, and they must be sent out by Oct. 15 at the latest. If you sign up for ballot tracking in the link in the next question, you’ll get an alert when your ballot is in the mail.
How do I know if my ballot was received?
Voters statewide may sign up to track your ballot online; here’s the link for tracking in Arapahoe County. 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.
I won’t be here during the time ballots are mailed out? Can I get a ballot earlier? Or have one mailed to a different address?
Yes. And, as of now, you may be able to pick up a ballot before you leave. Contact your county clerk to work out details if you want to pick up a ballot or have it mailed to a different address.
How do I return my ballot?
Ballots must arrive at a vote center or county clerk’s office by 7 p.m. Nov. 2. You may mail your ballot back, if there’s enough time for it to arrive. Remember: postmarks don’t count, according to the Secretary of State. The ballot has to be in the physical possession of elections officials on Election Day — not sitting in a blue box somewhere in the metroplex.
You may also deliver it to drop boxes at your county clerk’s office or other locations in your county. 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 hundreds of voting centers and drop boxes the last week of October. You may vote there in person starting then through 7 p.m. Election Day with some limited weekend hours.
What prevents me or anyone from voting twice: in person and by mail?
First, envelopes the ballots are returned in have barcodes unique to the individual. When the envelopes are received by clerks, they are scanned in and poll books are updated to show that the person has voted. So if someone sent in their mail ballot and it was processed, and then showed up to vote at a polling place, the poll worker checking them in would be able to see that they had already voted. Or, if the person votes early at a polling place, then also casts their mail ballot, their mail ballot will not be accepted for counting.
It is illegal to vote more than once. If someone votes in person and by mail, county clerks are required to provide that information to the district attorney or state attorney general for prosecution.
How can I be sure my vote is counted on Election Day?
Sign up to track your ballot. If it doesn’t arrive within a few days of being mailed, contact your county clerk. Return your ballot to a drop box or through the mail, and the ballot tracking system will let you know when your ballot is accepted. That means your vote will be counted.
Here’s a tip: The sooner you return your ballot, the sooner the texts, emails and phone calls nagging you to vote will stop. Campaigns and political parties get information daily on who has voted, and they stop contacting those voters.