Greater than 1.6 million Coloradans turned out for the June major two months in the past.
Fewer than 11,000 voted in individual at polling locations, the place coronavirus precautions had been in place. As a substitute, voters throughout the state took the ballots they acquired within the mail and returned them primarily to drop-off containers.
The voting strategies in Colorado are customary and date again to 2013, when the all-mail poll system went statewide for all elections. But Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold and county clerks from each events now discover themselves defending a system that was added as an possibility for Colorado counties again in 1993.
That’s as a result of President Donald Trump is making fixed assaults on the validity of mail-in ballots through his Twitter account and public statements. Mockingly, the Republican events in New Mexico, Ohio, Illinois, Arizona and different states are asking their voters to request mailed absentee ballots and included Trump’s photograph on some mailings as encouragement. Elections officers say absentee ballots – mailed to voters and returned both in individual or by mail – are primarily similar to mail-in ballots.
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“Election officials around the country have told me that their phones are ringing off the hook with voters asking if it’s still safe to vote by mail,” stated Tammy Patrick, a senior adviser on elections for the nonpartisan Democracy Fund, which helps initiatives to strengthen democracy within the U.S. “They’re asking in regards to the fraud narrative, which is unfounded.
“For the first time, we have an electorate that has been living through a global pandemic now for many months,” she stated. “And in this moment, we also have this national narrative that’s calling into question the legitimacy of voting by mail.”
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Lots of the questions elections officers are fielding greater than two months earlier than the election emerge from the nationwide dialog. Pam Anderson, government director of the Colorado County Clerks Affiliation and a former Jefferson County clerk, emphasised that elections are literally operated by county officers in Colorado with oversight from the Secretary of State’s Workplace.
“We see a fundamental misunderstanding of how things work state to state,” Anderson stated.
Colorado counties had been first licensed to conduct all-mail-ballot elections throughout odd years beginning in 1993 and in major elections starting in 2008, although statewide common elections nonetheless required a visit to the precinct polling place. In 2013, the Common Meeting enacted mail balloting for all statewide elections.
The state additionally routinely registers individuals to vote once they get drivers licenses or via different authorities companies. They’ll later get a card within the mail permitting them to choose out of registration or choose a celebration affiliation.
Voters can examine and replace their registration on-line, and even register at polling locations on Election Day. When ballots are returned, voter signatures are validated by a bipartisan workforce of elections officers.
“We have extremely clean elections, our elections work really well,” Griswold stated. “One of the reasons that we’re considered one of the secure states to cast a ballot is because of mail ballots, because they are a lot safer from cyber attack. You can’t hack a piece of paper.”
Trump raises questions on mail ballots, and polls present declining belief by voters
Because the president assails voting by mail from his Twitter account, Trump and his spouse Melania submitted mail ballots within the current Florida major election.
“Certainly we’re seeing (disinformation) from the pulpit of the president, and that creates a much more intense communications environment” for election officers, stated Anderson on the state clerks affiliation. “What’s not unusual is having to educate voters on what the trusted information is, their elections and what is or is not relevant to the elections we conduct here in Colorado.”
Fremont County Clerk Justin Grantham, a Republican, just lately authored a newspaper column decrying the unfold of disinformation in regards to the elections. “I can no longer listen to the rhetoric that Colorado’s mail ballot system is at risk in the upcoming general election,” he wrote.
“Colorado’s election system is considered the ‘gold standard’ for other states to follow,” he added.
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However voters are nonetheless expressing issues, together with Ruben Ramirez, a 55-year-old Denver resident. “It appears to me to be a campaign of trying to sow confusion to make it look like on Nov. 4 we’ll wake up and nobody will know who won, and Trump can just claim he won or claim that there was fraud without any evidence,” Ramirez stated.
Ramirez posted to his Highlands neighborhood NextDoor group encouraging individuals to register to vote. “I’m always concerned about what a low percentage of voter turnout we have in the United States in general,” he advised The Solar. “To me this is an extremely important election.”
Regardless of the nationwide debate, 66% of doubtless voters help common mail-in ballots, in line with a nationwide survey performed in July by a gaggle of teachers at 4 universities who had been finding out the coronavirus pandemic. Of the 307 Coloradans surveyed, 86% stated they voted by mail in 2016, however solely 80% stated they deliberate to vote by mail in November. The determine is throughout the 7% margin of error for the state’s outcomes however nonetheless issues election officers.
In the meantime, a current Pew Analysis survey indicated that just about half of U.S. voters anticipate to have issue voting within the Nov. three election. That compares with solely 15% who stated the identical in 2018.
Questions abound about mail supply, although most Coloradans return ballots in individual
The Democracy Fund’s Patrick labored as an elections compliance officer in Phoenix and served on the Presidential Fee on Election Administration, the place she centered on mail voting. She stated accusations that Postmaster Common Louis DeJoy is slowing down mail service to doubtlessly hinder mail-in voting are larger threats in states the place mail ballots haven’t been broadly used, fairly than skilled ones.
“Of course in Colorado, most people drop them off at the drop boxes,” Patrick stated.
However she stated “for those voters who can’t get out of the house for a variety of concerns, they’re going to want to make sure that they get it back in the mail as early as possible.”
Even Griswold stated her workplace is listening to issues about mail slowdowns. “One of the biggest things we’re hearing is just, ‘Is the post office going to deliver my ballot? Is it going to return the ballot?’”
Griswold stated she’s additionally involved about DeJoy’s actions and stated she’s been in contact with the publish workplace directors and employees to get extra data. However she famous that the overwhelming majority of voters use drop containers to return their ballots, bypassing the mail.
Ballots will start to exit Oct. 9, and voters can examine GoVoteColorado to see when their poll is mailed and monitor when it’s acquired by the county clerk’s workplace.
Griswold stated there will likely be greater than 350 drop containers within the state’s 64 counties. “Traditionally about 75% of mail ballots are returned to drop boxes. There is a good chance that drop boxes will be used even more than they have in the past,” she stated.
The drop containers are monitored by video cameras and are emptied each day by bipartisan groups of election employees.
Anderson stated Coloradans with questions on voting ought to examine their county elections web site. All energetic voters — these with a verified, working deal with — obtain mail ballots. “We’re very lucky here in Colorado because a ballot is going to go to every registered and eligible elector that has all the information in it that tells them where their drop off is, where their vote-in-person options are, if they need them,” she stated.
Within the closing eight days earlier than the election, Griswold recommends voters return ballots to drop containers or county clerks places of work. That’s very true in rural areas, Anderson stated.
“I have a lot of confidence in our collaboration with the U.S. Postal Service,” Anderson stated. “I personally am in close contact with them, as well as the Secretary of State’s Office. We will be working overtime to make sure that Colorado voters have confidence.”
This story is part of #FollowtheMoneyCO, a challenge of the Colorado Information Collaborative (COLab), edited by The Colorado Solar with help from the Colorado Media Mission.
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