Colorado Expects 'About 70-80%' Of Votes To Be Counted Election Night
It's finally here: this Tuesday, Nov. 3 is Election Day. For Coloradans who get their ballots in the mail and turn them in by mail, drop box or early in-person voting, the election lasts longer than one day. But ballots must be received by county clerks by 7 p.m. on Tuesday to be counted, and then we'll begin to get a sense of the results.
Colorado's Secretary of State Jena Griswold joined Colorado Edition to walk us through what we can expect and how voting is going so far this year.
These interview highlights have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Erin O'Toole: How many Coloradans have turned in their ballots so far?
Jena Griswold: As of Sunday evening, over 2.5 million Coloradans have already turned in their ballots, which is just great. We've already surpassed 90% of the total 2016 vote and we expect Coloradans to continue voting all the way until the polls close tomorrow.
Do you have a sense of how many Coloradans have voted in-person versus dropping it off at a drop box or in the mail? And what trends are we seeing with that this year?
We have the most recent numbers as of Sunday evening, and a little over 80,000 Coloradans have chosen to vote in-person. And that makes up 3.1% of the total votes cast. In comparison to 2016, the in-person voting is slightly up, by 0.8%.
How many Coloradans are you expecting to vote on Election Day?
I think a lot of Coloradans will continue to return their mail ballots today and tomorrow. At this point, it is too late to mail those ballots back. But luckily, we have hundreds of drop boxes across the state. We have close to 400 drop boxes, which is more than a 50% increase from 2018. I also expect foot traffic to slightly increase at the voting centers. There are a lot of voting centers — 342 located across the state.
Whichever way is most convenient for voters, we want to just make sure that everybody remembers to get their votes in before 7 p.m. on Election Day.
We have the highest percentage of eligible people registered in the nation. And we're always on top in terms of voter participation. This year, we have a friendly bet with Minnesota. Minnesota had the top voter turnout in 2018 and we were No. 2. We want to flip that this year, and make sure that our voices are heard the most at the highest rate in the nation.
And can we just remind people that if you have not registered to vote for some reason, is it too late to do that?
It is not too late. In Colorado, we have same-day voter registration. You can go to a voting center today or tomorrow, just as long as you're in line by 7 p.m. on election evening, and actually register and also cast a ballot. That's just one of the ways that Colorado's elections are extremely accessible.
Let's turn now to talk about what happens after all of the ballots are turned in. Remind us how results are tabulated.
In Colorado, as soon as the county clerks receive a ballot, they start processing them and checking signatures. Fifteen days before the election, they can start scanning the ballots into the system. Right when the polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, they can start sending us the results, and then we will report them.
"Election night results are never final results."
We continue to report new results as they come in. We expect to have about 70 to 80% of results on election night. And then the days following more ballots will come in from overseas and military voters, and we'll just continue to upload those results for the public as they come in. Election night results are never final results.
Do you have a sense of how the timeline for Colorado's election results compares to the rest of the country?
There are some states, like Colorado, that can begin to process election results early. The reason that we're going to be able to report about 75% of the vote totals on election night is because we start processing ballots early. But some states do not have that type of legislation in place. And they're not going to be able start counting until today or tomorrow. And that includes states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, which will have significant ballot counting after Election Day. But that's okay. Just like any election, various activities happen after Election Day and before the votes are final.
This conversation is part of KUNC’s Colorado Edition for Nov. 2. You can find the full episode here.