How to vote (and be sure it’s counted) in the general election

Colorado has received many accolades over the years for its voting system, which makes it relatively easy for people to vote, with things like same-day voter registration, postal voting, and statewide voting centers. However, it’s easy to have questions about what to do and how everything works. Below are some of the most common questions we’ve received over the years and answers specific to 2022.

Q: I keep hearing that Colorado is a “mail-by-mail” state. What does that really mean?

Before each election, Colorado mails ballots to every registered, active voter in the state. Some registered voters may be considered “inactive” and will not receive a ballot if their local clerk has reason to believe they no longer reside at the address on their registration (e.g. if election-related mail has been returned undelivered) . Inactive voters must update their registration information to receive a postal vote.

Q: How do I verify that my voter information is correct?

Simply go to the Secretary of State’s website and enter your name, zip code and date of birth to view your voter registration information. You can also use this page to register to vote or update your registration, change your party affiliation and find out much more information about the election.

Q: When should I expect to receive my ballot?

Officials will begin mailing ballots on October 17.

Q: How can I track my ballot?

Colorado uses a service called BallotTrax that allows voters to sign up for text or email alerts at any stage of the voting process. The messages let you know when your ballot was mailed to you, when it was back at the clerk’s office, and when it was processed.

Here you can sign up.

Q: I’m nervous about the USPS. What if my ballot doesn’t arrive on time?

You are not required to use the ballot that the state sends you. Voter centers will open no later than October 24 across the state. Any voter who has not yet returned a ballot can go to one and vote in person. However, do not return your postal ballot when it arrives. The system will indicate that you have returned two ballots and could be prosecuted.

Q: What if I’m not at home when the ballots are mailed and I don’t come back before the election?

You can still get a ballot and vote even if you’re not home. From now until the polling stations open, you can pick one up in person at your district secretariat. You can also have your ballot paper sent to a temporary address. For specific information about your situation, call your county clerk’s office (find the number here).

Q: How do I return my ballot?

When it comes to casting your vote, Colorado takes an all-encompassing approach.

Would you like to send it in? Check your envelope to see how much postage is required and return it no closer than a week before the election to ensure it gets to your secretary’s office on time.

do you want to give it up Colorado has over 350 Dropboxes statewide where you can post your ballot. You’ll need to make sure you’re using a box that’s located in your county – look for a list of locations on your county clerk’s website. Some counties, like Denver, also have drive-through drop-offs where you can hand your ballot to an election judge. (All in all, if you accidentally drop off your ballot in the wrong district, the clerk there will try to put it back where it belongs.)

Would you like to vote personally? You may have changed your mind after filling in the “yes” bubble on that one voting action. Or maybe your cat spilled coffee on your ballot. Or maybe you just prefer to vote the old-fashioned way. As mentioned above, you can always throw away your absentee ballot and vote in person at a local voting center. You can find the locations of these on your county officer’s website or by looking up your voter registration information at

Q: How late can I put my ballot in the mailbox and still have it counted?

Polling judges should be on hand to close each mailbox at exactly 7:00 p.m. At this point, they also collect any remaining ballots in the box. If you try to vote in person and wait in line until 7, you can still vote after the polling stations have officially closed.

Q: What security measures are in place to ensure that no one steals my ballot and votes fraudulently?

To keep the vote secure, Colorado relies heavily on signature verification. Once your ballot is received by the Secretariat, a voting judge will compare the signatures on your envelope with the signature he has left for you. If the two don’t match, your ballot will be rejected.

Q: I want to be sure that the signature on file matches my current signature so my absentee ballot isn’t rejected – how can I do that?

There is no way to directly check what signature the electoral judge will see on his screen.

But here is some information that might reassure you a little: By default, the signature verification system uses an image of the last signed document that the government received from you. Which, if you’re a dedicated voter, may not have been until the last time you returned a ballot. The system also saves all your old signatures in case the people doing the verification want to verify a few more samples before making their call.

Here’s a handy guide with a few pointers to ensure your signature is accepted.

However, if your signature is declined, the clerk will need to contact you and give you time to “cure” the issue for your ballot to be counted. We have more information on that in the next answer.

Q: What happens if my ballot is rejected?

There are several reasons why a ballot can be rejected: your signature could have changed so much that it no longer matches the one on file, or you simply forgot to sign your ballot in full, or you live with another voter and The two of you got confused and put your ballots in each other’s envelopes (it happens!)

In each of these cases, your ballot will be held while election officials attempt to reach you by email, phone, or letter to notify you of a problem. Various factions are also receiving lists of voters whose ballots have been rejected and may try to reach out to you to encourage you to fix the issue. Voters have up to eight days after the election (that’s November 16 this year) to resolve issues with their ballot so it can be counted. This can be done by post or by going to the public order office or over the phone and a government program called Text2Cure.

Q: Help, I’m reading this just days before the election and I haven’t even signed up to vote! Is it too late to participate?

Not at all. Colorado is allowing people to register and vote until 7 p.m. on Election Day, when polling stations close. However, if you do so after October 31, it will be too late to vote by mail. You’ll need to register in person at a voting center, where, unsurprisingly, you can also receive a ballot and vote.

The Secretary of State has a lot of information about registration to choose from here. You have to show some kind of ID. A list of requirements can be found here.

Q: When does ballot counting begin in Colorado?

The ballots are counted before the election, but only counted after the polling stations have closed. Poll workers open the envelopes upon arrival and, after verifying the signatures, run them through tabulating machines. These scan the ballots and record how each person voted, but they don’t just add everything up automatically. This data is not calculated and released until polling stations close on election night and someone clicks tab.

This system is why everyone involved in the voting process – and those of us who cover it and those of you who like to go to bed at a reasonable time – really want voters to return their ballots as early as possible. That way, officials can already have scanned as many as possible by the time polling stations close, leading to much earlier election results if races aren’t closed.

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