More problems w/Colorado mail-in ballots

| October 31, 2008

In my earlier post, I noted several potential problems with the Colorado mail-in ballots (which have been requested by 62% of “active, registered voters” in Colorado). Today’s Rocky Mountain News reports yet another potential problem with these ballots:

More than 35,000 newly registered Colorado voters could see their mail ballots tossed out because of confusion over the need to include a copy of their ID with their votes.

The state requires county clerks to verify the identification of all new voters. Often, it’s as simple as comparing a driver’s license number on a voter registration form to the state’s motor vehicle database.

But when that check runs into trouble – in cases, for example, when the license number is copied down incorrectly – county clerks want to see the identification.

This year has seen an unprecedented surge in voter registrations.

And according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, as of Monday 35,620 first-time voters whose identity had not been verified requested mail ballots.

Those voters should have been instructed to photocopy their driver’s license or other identification and include it when they mailed back their ballots. If they fail to, the ballots will be treated as though they are provisional. That means county clerks will attempt after the election to verify the identity of the voter. If they can’t, the ballots will be disqualified.

There were indeed instructions in my ballot package to include a copy of my driver’s license or other ID if I were newly registered (I wasn’t, so I didn’t).

[UPDATE] Here’s an earlier news article in the Colorado Independent indicating that many of the newly registered people who signed up (via ACORN and elsewhere) for a mail-in ballot may have failed to properly mark their registration form — and may not get mail-in ballots, period. [END UPDATE]

So, let’s summarize all the ways in which a mail-in ballot (again, which 62% of all active, registered voters reqested) could be invalidated:

  • Failing to realize that once you have requested a mail-in ballot, you cannot change your mind and go to the polls instead — you have to use the mail-in ballot;
  • Putting an X or check mark in each candidate/issue selection box, instead of filling it in completely with blue or blank ink;
  • Failing to sign the “affidavit of voter” section located (on mine, at least) underneath the envelope flap;
  • Failing to mail the ballot in time so that it is delivered to your county recorder’s office no later than 7:00 pm on Tuesday, November 4th (date of postmark doesn’t count; note that with some Colorado counties, you can’t drop the ballot off at the polls on election day, either);
  • Failing to put the necessary postage ($0.59) on the ballot envelope;
  • Failing to include a copy of your driver’s license or other valid state ID if you are one of those 35,000 newly registered voters who requested a mail-in ballot.

I suspect there’s going to be a bit of a mess on the day after Election day, particularly if there are any close vote counts in the major races.  ..bruce w..

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Category: 2008 Election, Main, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.