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Q&A: Colorado primary ballots

You have to vote by 7 p.m. on June 28.

DENVER — Have you voted yet, Colorado?

You have until 7 p.m. on Tuesday to return your mailed ballot or go vote in person if you'd like to participate in the 2022 primary to decide which candidates end up on the final ballot for November.

We've been answering some of your questions about voting since ballots were delivered.

Kellen from Jefferson County sent a photo of the Democratic primary ballot. It contained not a single contested race. That means every race had just one candidate. He sent a popular question shared by a voter in Highlands Ranch and Larimer County.

Kellen/Jefferson County: "What's the point?"

Roger/Douglas County: 'What is the reason for even sending this particular ballot out?"

Sandra/Larimer County: "If there isn’t more than one choice for an office on the primary ballot won’t that one person be the candidate regardless of how many primary votes they receive?"

We went to Democratic Jefferson County Clerk & Recorder George Stern.

"If there is a contested race in either of the major party, if either the Republicans or the Democrats have a contested race anywhere on that ballot, then I have to send ballots for all races in both of the major parties," said Stern. "If there were no contested races anywhere in the state of Colorado on anything, then correct, the primary is canceled. We move onto the general election."

RELATED: How many candidates are running unopposed in Colorado primaries?

RELATED: How to vote in Colorado's 2022 primary election

Sandra/Larimer County: "Is there any point in completing and returning it?"

Marcie/Adams County: "What, if anything, does it mean if I don't fill in the circle?"

"You're developing the pattern, the habit," said Stern.

If you like getting credit for voting every year, sending back a blank ballot gives you credit for voting. Voting for some races, but not all is also OK. Not voting in a race is called an "undervote."

Stern explains more practical reasons for voting regardless of the competition on the ballot.

"Mail it back. It also, practically, gives us your most recent signature, so we're comparing your signature in November with the even more recent signature on file," said Stern. "It lets us know that your information is up to date, that you are, indeed, still living at that home because you voted from that home and signed a ballot from that home."

Several unaffiliated voters have reached out with Arthur's question about wanting to vote in multiple races on both ballots. Most of the more than 1.6 million unaffiliated voters in Colorado receive both the Democratic and Republican primary ballots.

There are 42,000 unaffiliated voters who have requested to only receive the Democratic primary ballot. There are 26,000 unaffiliated voters who have requested to only receive the Republican primary ballot.

Arthur: "What if you want to vote for someone on either side? Seems like they are forcing you to vote for one party only. You can't pick people from either party."

He is right. The state legislature decided that after voters in 2016 approved that unaffiliated voters could participate in primary elections. You can only return one.

"If you return both, we are required, state law, to discard both. We can't assume your intent. We can't look at which one we pulled out first and said, 'oh, he must have wanted to vote in this one because he filled out more races in this one than the other one,'" said Stern.

RELATED: Denver opens up the ballot counting process for you to see

Sara from Larimer County had a question about her ballot envelope.

Sara: Why are the ballot return envelopes different colors this year? Purple versus the standard white?

The purple envelopes in Larimer County serve a purpose.

"If you're an unaffiliated voter, you're going to receive a purple -- a ballot that's got purple on the front. It's going to be white on the back, but purple on the front. And that's because we have to treat unaffiliated ballots differently when they come," said Republican Larimer County Clerk Angela Myers.

What does that mean that unaffiliated ballot envelopes get treated differently?

Since most unaffiliated voters are sent both a Democratic and Republican primary ballot, the different colored envelope is to alert election workers to be on the lookout for just one ballot inside.

"Unaffiliated voters are going to get two ballots. And when they come back, we need to make sure they didn't return both because they're only allowed to return one," said Stern. "It's simpler for us if we have a quick way, a visual, to separate those envelopes out."

In Jefferson County, Democratic voters are sent orange return envelopes, as are Republican voters.

Jefferson County sends military and overseas voters ballots with black return envelopes.

That is because military and overseas ballots can be received and still counted up to eight days after the election.

"We want to know when we receive it, 'Oh, that's one that gets extra time. We don't need to set it aside and reject it because it's not too late,'" said Stern.

There are other ballots that can be counted up to eight days after the election. Those are ballots that had signature discrepancies or first-time voters that needed to show ID.

RELATED: Colorado's Jena Griswold appoints election supervisor in Pueblo County, alleging 'errors, mistakes'

Bob from Centennial had a question about signatures.

Bob: My ballot has my full first, middle and last names printed above the signature area. My normal signature is my first name, middle initial and last name. Does it matter how I sign?

"Best advice we can give is to sign how you usually sign your name because we've got your whole signature history that we're able to look at, from how you always sign your ballot envelope, to how you're signing at the DMV," said Stern.

Signatures change over time and election workers check your signature against previous versions of your signature.

"We see sometimes voters include the middle initial, don't include the middle initial, include the middle name, don't include the middle name. We're looking at everything we can look at, so if we've just got first and last to compare, we'll compare the first and last and be able to go off of that," said Stern.

If there is a question about your signature, you will get a letter in the mail after the election, an email if your county has your email on file and even a text, if the county has your phone number. You have up to eight days following the election to "cure" your signature, meaning provide extra proof that you are legit, and then your vote can still be counted.

Keep your election questions coming. Email marshall@9news.com or next@9news.com. You can also record yourself asking a question and send it by email or on Twitter using the hashtag #HeyNext.

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