DENVER — Ballots are in the hands of Colorado voters for the state's 2020 primary election on June 30.
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper and former State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff are vying for the Democratic nomination. The winner will challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
Colorado is a same-day registration state. You can vote up until election day if you need to. Find the location nearest you to register/vote/drop off your ballot at this link.
Since the law went into effect in 2013, all registered voters get a ballot in the mail. They can still choose the option to vote in person at voting centers in the state, which opened on Monday.
Unaffiliated voters will get both ballots in the mail but can only cast one of them. Make sure to only turn in one, or your vote won't be counted.
The ballots Colorado voters receive in the mail must be received by the County Clerk's office by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30. If you don't mail your ballot by midnight on June 22, it is recommended that you hand-deliver your ballot. Drop-off locations for each county can be found here.
We talked with Alton Dillard, communications manager with Denver Elections, about the upcoming primary and some precautions being taken this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Editor's note: Responses have been edited for context and clarity.)
9NEWS: When is the last day Coloradans can mail in their ballot?
Dillard: June 22 is kind of what we call "the mail day," because it’s essentially our deadline to mail ballots out to voters. But it's also the suggested deadline for anyone who wants to mail their ballot back to us.
In Denver County, we've got 37 24-hour drop boxes located throughout the city and county, so they can use those just as easily. Also, our vote centers opened citywide today. So if people simply want to come to one of our vote centers and still do a touch-free drop-off, they're able to do that. All of our vote centers that are open this week offer drive-thru ballot drop off.
So what happens if you don't mail your ballot today? What are the options for those folks?
Dillard: If you don't mail your ballot today, your best bet is to just bring it to one of the 24-hour boxes. No postage is required.
All of our 24-hour boxes are highly secure. They're under surveillance cameras and are monitored by bipartisan teams of election judges that actually do those pickups.
What about those who haven't registered to vote yet?
Dillard: One thing they can do is just simply go to govoteColorado.gov, which is the Secretary of State's website, and they can register there and still get a ballot mailed to them if they do that by midnight on June 22.
But anyone who wants to get their hands on a ballot after Monday is going to have to come to a vote center in person.
What other options do Denver voters have?
Dillard: Starting Tuesday, June 23, we're going to also be offering curbside pickup. You simply just apply for it ahead online, or you can call 311 and hit option 8 to get set up for an appointment. Then, you just have to drive up to the tent and get your ballot.
Think of it as a 'takeaway ballot.' Then, voters still have the option of getting it placed in a 24-hour box, all the way up until 7 p.m. on election day, or bring it back to another drive-up tent to drop it off.
Will COVID-19 change the way people vote in person?
Dillard: We will have distancing in place. If a voter forgets to wear their face covering, we will have ones that we can distribute to any voter that has to come in person.
If someone chooses to vote in person, we'll make sure that the voting booth is wiped down between voters, and the accessible voting tablet is wiped down between voters. Even the styluses, if a voter feels more comfortable using that as opposed to actually touching the screen, will be wiped down.
You'll also see a Plexiglas separation at our vote centers around town here, so we will also have that protection in place too.
Any changes to how ballots are processed?
Dillard: We have safety measures in place all throughout our organization, and that includes our election judges who work in our ballot processing rooms.
Instead of being shoulder-to-shoulder like prior elections, there will be an election judge and then a station and then another election judge with that station in between. And in all of our areas, we're trying to make sure that everyone remains spread out.
That said, the one thing we also want people to know is that the days of everyone knowing final results by the time the 10 o'clock news comes on – those days are really going to be over now because if we get that late surge of ballots, we're not going to have as many people processing them.
So if we're still counting ballots Tuesday night into Wednesday morning of next week, nothing's wrong it's just the normal process. Mail ballots take longer to process, but we also believe that the convenience it offers voters is a more than fair trade-off.
What else should Denver voters know ahead of the primary election?
Voting centers in the city and county of Denver will also be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, so there's still plenty of time to be able to vote. We want to make sure that we're pointing people toward Denvervotes.org/voterinfo. It's got all the information you need, all the hours, all the locations. It also has an interactive map where you can just sort of drop a pin to see where the nearest voting center is or where the nearest 24-hour box is to you.
Don't wait to the last second. Use a 24-hour drop box, use a drive up. All the information is at DenverVotes.org/voterinfo.
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