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Politics
The 2016 election is over - at least, the numbers part. What happens next? We're bringing you continuing coverage on what ballot measures passed and failed, what the reelected - and newly elected - officials have to say about the election, and what a Donald Trump presidency means for Colorado.Election Night Coverage2016 Election Results - in chart formKUNC's coverage, archived on Storify 00000173-b44e-de61-a5fb-f7cf7ec70001

Don't Panic If Your Colorado Ballot Was A Stamp Short

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Erin O'Toole
/
KUNC
Depending on where you live, your ballot may require more than one stamp.

The 2016 election marks Colorado’s first mail-in ballot presidential election. Depending on the weight of the ballot, the postage needed for the envelope can differ county to county. There are 64 counties in the state and most voters should follow a simple rule of thumb: one forever stamp per page of ballot. That's according to David Rupert, Colorado spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service. 

Each ballot states the required amount of postage needed, but many voters didn't notice and just attached one stamp. So what will happen? The official policy is that all the ballots anywhere in the United States will be delivered regardless of whether they have proper postage.

The county that received the ballot for tallying will be charged the difference.

“It may seem small to you -- 47 cents,” said Lynn Bartels, a spokeswoman for Colorado's Secretary of State, which oversees elections. “But that’s 47 cents not available for human services and 47 cents not available for road and bridge projects… The other thing is, this is your vote, why would you gamble with something as precious as a vote?”

Timing is everything with mail in ballots. Unlike taxes, an Election Day postmark isn’t enough for your ballot to be counted, Rupert said.

“That’s not going to count," he said. "It has to be at the registrar's office or the county clerk’s office by 7 p.m. Nov. 8.... We’ve delivered 3.1 million ballots across the state, and all that education mail before the election... we’ve been preparing for over a year for this and have been training our employees.”

You can check your ballot’s progress by signing up for a ballot tracker at your county’s website.

Is Colorado's mail-in ballot system secure?

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump questioned the integrity of elections in Colorado during his visits over the weekend to Golden and Greeley. 

“Do you think those ballots are properly counted… I know they are saying everything is so legitimate… Perhaps I’m a more skeptical person,” Trump mused to the crowd at the Bank of Colorado Arena.

Colorado, Washington and Oregon are the only states to conduct their elections entirely by mail.

Trump told a crowd at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds that he had “real problems” with the mail-ballot system. In response, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper held a news conference Oct. 31, accompanied by Doug Jaynes, head of the union representing postal carriers.

Hickenlooper called Trump’s comments “beyond the pale,” while Jaynes released the following statement:

Postal workers take great pride in the integral role we play in Colorado's election process. We are proud to play a part in ensuring that every Colorado voter, from the Front Range to the Western Slope, can cast their vote, knowing their ballot will be safely delivered by Colorado's letter carriers and other postal employees - just as we have sworn under our oath of office to protect and uphold the Constitution. Donald Trump's attacks on the integrity of Colorado's postal employees – nearly a quarter of whom are veterans - are offensive and insulting. He owes the thousands of dedicated Coloradans who uphold the integrity of our state's elections an apology.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, also responded to Trump’s comments, saying there are lots of checks in place to assure a fair and clean election. 

“We have 24-hour video surveillance on our 24-hour drop boxes, so that you can rest assured that when you drop that off at a drop box, it is not taken by someone else, it’s not tampered with.”

Williams added that when the bipartisan team of judges pick up ballots from the drop boxes, they are placed in a bag with a tamper-evident seal.

How long has Colorado had mail-in ballots?

The first statewide mail-in election in Colorado was in 2014. Williams said that 8,000 ballots weren’t counted that year because the signatures on the ballot affidavit didn’t match what the state had on file.

That was the first major election under a relatively new system, which was created after the Democratic-controlled legislature passed the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act in 2013. It allowed for same-day voter registration and provided every registered voter in the state with a mail-in ballot, among other things.

It’s not clear if mail-in ballots have incentivized people to vote in Colorado. Participation has gone up in every election since 1994. A Pew Charitable Trust study released in March 2016 found that the cost had actually decreased after the law was enacted, finding that “counties spent an average of $9.56 per vote in 2014, down from $15.96 in 2008, and all but three counties spent less per vote in 2014 than in 2008.”

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Credit The Pew Charitable Trusts
Calculated from the secretary of state’s State Ballot Measure Reimbursement Form (2014) and a separate survey from the Colorado County Clerks Association (2008).

The same study included data from a survey of mail and in-person voters in Colorado in 2014, which found almost identical rates of satisfaction.

Among by-mail voters, 95 percent indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their voting experience, compared with 96 percent of in-person voters.

The survey also found that nearly two-thirds of respondents said they returned their ballot in person, usually to a drop box.

Colorado, Washington and Oregon are the only states to conduct their elections entirely by mail. 

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