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Colorado

Colorado only made minor changes in order to adapt in 2020, as its existing system proved resilient enough to maintain its ability to allow voters to vote safely, both in person and by mail, in spite of the pandemic. In 2021 the state improved its system further, but there’s always more opportunities to improve even further. These improvements will bring Colorado one step closer to a more safe, efficient, and voter-friendly election process. As always, we stress that policy is important, but it is just as important that it is implemented well.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

Simplifying the return process for a ballot is just as important as simplifying the request process. Prepaying postage on ballot return envelopes ensures that voters do not need to make an extra trip to the post office.
Expanding accepting of ballots with Election Day postmarks received shortly after election day is a best practice to ensure that voters are given all options to vote their ballot in a timely manner, and one that Colorado already follows: Colorado already offers postmark acceptance for military and overseas voters. Accepting Election Day postmarks is estimated in most jurisdictions to decrease ballot rejection rates by half.

Recent Legislation

As of June 29, 2021

Not willing to rest on its laurels, in 2021 the state passed a variety of improvements. Colorado’s primary focus in its 2021 changes was accessibility. HB 1011 increased access to ballots in other languages, while SB 188 increased ballot return options for disabled voters. Some of the other changes were more minor, such as SB 160, which clarified existing laws for municipal elections, and HB 1001, which allowed remote voting for party committees during the pandemic.

Colorado has been conducting its elections by mail for years, so the state already had the infrastructure needed in order to conduct the election safely and securely in the “new normal”, so the changes the legislature made to adjust the system to the pandemic were relatively minor. Below are some of the most important election bills that passed in Colorado in 2020 and 2021.

Required clerks to send ballots w/in 2 business days of all ballot apps/voter reg updates received between 8-15 days pre-election; criminalized failure to report that mail ballots have been lost/stolen; required that ballots sent w/in 11 days of an election be sent by first class mail.

Made minor, non substantive changes to language in VBM provisions.

Makes administrative clarifications to local government election codes, no substantive changes

Makes a variety of technical improvements to existing policies.

Would allow members of party central committees/vacancy committees to cast committee votes remotely (by email/mail/phone/internet) until the end of 2021.

Increases multilingual ballot access. This bill is waiting for concurrence.

Would allow voters w/ disabilities that receive ballots electronically to return ballots electronically (“if printing the ballot is not feasible”).