Voter Q&A: When do elections officials start counting our ballots?

Sandra Fish
Colorado News Collaborative

Q. When do elections officials start counting our ballots?
A. Elections officials may start counting ballots 15 days ahead of the election on Oct. 19. But first, elections officials must verify the voter signature on the envelope. The early counting relieves some of the Election Day crush, but no results will be made public until after polls close at 7 p.m. Nov. 3. Not even elections officials know the results until then because computer software prevents the count from being revealed until after polls close. Even with the head start in the count, full results in super-close contests still might take a few days.

Q. How can I be sure my vote is counted on Election Day?
A. Sign up to track your ballot. If it doesn’t arrive within a few days of being mailed, contact your county clerk. Return your ballot to a drop box or through the mail, and the ballot-tracking system will let you know when your ballot is accepted. That means your vote will be counted. The sooner you return your ballot, the sooner the texts, emails and phone calls nagging you to vote will stop. Campaigns and political parties get information daily on who has voted, and they stop contacting those voters.

Q. I saw reports about voting cards being mailed to people who aren’t eligible to vote.
A. A CBS4 story sparked questions about cards mailed by the Secretary of State’s Office to people who aren’t registered to vote. The cards let residents know they can register if they’re citizens, have lived in Colorado for 22 days before Nov. 3 and will be 18 or older on Election Day. But the story, headlined “Colorado Secretary of State Mails Postcards To Non-Citizens, Dead People Urging Them To Vote,” suggested that the Secretary of State’s Office was encouraging people who are ineligible to vote to cast a ballot. It noted that about a dozen of the cards out of 750,000 were mailed to people ineligible to vote. Right-leaning media and Twitter accounts quickly seized upon the report and shared it as evidence of potential voter fraud. Voter fraud is, in fact, rare in Colorado and nationally. The story was eventually removed by CBS4 and replaced by an interview with Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

Editor’s note: This information is brought to you by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative, a nonprofit bringing together more than 50 newsrooms across Colorado working together to better serve the public. Learn more at

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