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What Coloradans Need To Know To Ensure Their Ballots Are Counted This November

Jackie Hai / KUNC

Colorado voters don’t have to request a mail-in ballot, because the state has been automatically sending all registered voters a ballot since 2013.

But a bit of misleading information from a mailer sent by the U.S. Postal Service to Colorado homes as part of a national mail-voting promotion incorrectly claims voters must request a ballot at least 15 days ahead of the election. That mailer is being challenged in court by Colorado’s Secretary of State to keep it from being sent to any more homes over fears that it’ll cause confusion and suppress voters.

This is just one of many examples of what Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers calls “noise” about the logistics of this election.

The inaccurate mailer sent by USPS as presented in Colorado's lawsuit against the Postal Service. The text beneath it reads "This official notice contains several false statements about voting in Colorado."
Court Documents
The inaccurate mailer sent by USPS as presented in Colorado's lawsuit against the Postal Service.

In actuality, as long as a person is registered to vote, their county will automatically send a ballot to their last registered address starting on Oct. 9.

Coloradans that don’t receive their ballot soon after that date can check their ballot’s status on the Secretary of Statewebsite. Anyone still struggling to get their ballot delivered can request a replacement ballot from their county clerk — a complete listing of clerks is available on the same site.

Despite claims made by that USPS mailer, Coloradans can request a ballot until Oct. 26, just eight days before the election. However,any mailed ballots must arrive by 7 p.m. on Election Day, November 3. Clerks across Northern Colorado say voters who plan to mail in their ballot should do so by Oct. 26 to ensure it arrives on time, but people in more remote areas like Yuma County may need to send it out at least a few days sooner.

The ballots Coloradans receive in the mail are not only intended to be mailed back. Colorado has at least 368 drop boxes for voters to put their ballots in statewide. The drop boxes are monitored, available 24 hours a day and have their locations listed on county clerks’ websites. Voters can drop the ballot they receive in the mail off in one of these boxes anytime up to 7 p.m. on election night.

Larger counties, like Larimerand Weld, have more than a dozen drop boxes spread out across the county. Yuma, Loganand Sedgwickcounties only have one or two, so those counties’ voters may have to plan ahead to get to a drop box.

And finally, there’s in-person voting on Election Day. Citizens can still register to vote on that date. Counties are taking precautions like plexiglass guards, disposable pens and social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but several clerks suggested people use the drop boxes or mail their ballot to avoid risking themselves or workers.

“We need to keep folks out of our voting sites,” Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers said. “I’m very proud (that) Larimer voters listened in the last election and they did not come into voter service and polling centers.”

She added that there were no reported cases of infection among polling workers or the few in-person voters during this year’s primary.

“Please, if you think you must come into a voter service and polling center and can’t for some reason vote that mail ballot you received, call us first,” Myers said. “We will see if there’s another alternative that we can provide for you that doesn’t require that you come in.”

Myers pushes voters to make sure they are getting their election logistics information from the right source.

“Please don’t get your information from social media,” she said. “I wish that every single citizen would understand very clearly that the folks who conduct elections work for them. We are their source, their resource. Don’t go to some consolidated place to find out about Larimer county, go to votelarimer.org for any piece of information you need about our election.”

“I’m accountable to you,” she added. “Contact me directly. Ask me the hard questions.”

Multiple Northern Colorado county clerks also pushed against claims that mail-in voting poses an election security risk. Myers says voters giving their ballot to a friend to drop it off is a much bigger risk.

As KUNC’s rural and small communities reporter, I help further the newsroom’s efforts to ensure that all of Northern Colorado’s communities are heard.
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