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What is ballot curing, and how does it work?

What is ballot curing? It's fixing smaller mistakes that people make and verifying signatures to make sure their vote counts.

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. — Not everyone remembers to sign their ballot envelope.

And first-time mail-ballot voters sometimes forget to include a copy of identification.

In those instances, those ballots are not counted, but they're not rejected either.

It is those ballots that can cause vote totals to change following Election Day.

As of Friday night, the race for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District is separated by 1,122 votes. Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert leads by just enough so far to avoid an automatic recount against Democratic challenger Adam Frisch.

The two largest counties in that district -- Mesa and Pueblo -- have a combined 1,166 ballots that have yet to be counted because of a mistake made by the voter.

A mistake those voters can still fix, or "cure" by the end of Wednesday.

"'Cure' just means that an eligible voter has cast a ballot, they've submitted that and there is some sort of technical deficiency with that," said Amber McReynolds, former Denver Elections Director and a national elections expert.

A technical deficiency could be a ballot with a missing signature, a signature that does not match or lack of ID for a first-time voter.

Those ballots are set aside. Then, those voters are contacted by mail, and perhaps by text, to let them know how to fix their ballot mistake so their ballot can still count.

In Mesa County, there are 797 voters who can still cure their ballot by Wednesday.

The county has posted the names of those voters, along with political affiliation.

Of the 797, 430 are unaffiliated, 251 are Republican and 88 are Democrats.

Pueblo County has 369 voters who can still cure their uncounted ballots, but the county did not share the political affiliation of those voters.

Candidates and their campaigns can try to contact those voters to get them to cure their ballots, but the candidates do not know who the voter picked, so it is possible that helping a voter cure their ballot could give another vote to the opponent.

Another reason vote totals change more than a week after Election Day is because military members and overseas voters still registered in Colorado can have their ballots counted if they're received up to 8 days after Election Day.

"Normal process, happens every election. In fact, it's happening in every single state in the country right now," McReynolds said.

There is one more stat to share.

The 3rd Congressional District includes 27 counties. In all those counties combined, there are more than 6,200 undervotes in the race between Boebert and Frisch. That means a voter did not choose either candidate. Though, it turns out an undervote does not necessarily mean the bubble was left blank.

"A voter may have marked outside of that oval, so they might have circled the name or underlined the name," McReynolds said.

In a recount, either automatic or paid for by the losing candidate, those undervotes can also be scrutinized again by election judges to see if the race was truly left blank or if there is a mark that indicates voter intent.

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