Colorado’s county clerks will begin mailing more than 3 million ballots to voters on Monday as the state’s roughly three-week-long Election Day officially kicks off.
About 2 million of those ballots will pass through the U.S. Postal Service’s processing plant in Denver on Monday afternoon and Tuesday alone.
Voters this year have a range of ballot questions and candidates to decide on — from oil and gas regulations to who will be the state’s next governor, attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state.
It will likely be a few days before your ballot actually lands in your mailbox, but here are some things to know ahead of time:
Colorado’s voter registration numbers
As of Oct. 1, there were 3,883,317 registered voters in Colorado, about 600,000 of whom are listed as being inactive.
Of those, 1,168,814 are Democrats, 1,129,053 are Republicans and 1,513,479 are unaffiliated. (Thousands more are affiliated with other political parties, like the Libertarian and Green parties.)
Turnout for midterm elections can be low, especially among younger voters, so look for get-out-the-vote efforts to ramp up significantly in the coming days.
Inactive voters in Colorado get that status if their county clerk has mailed them something and it comes back as being undeliverable. Those people will not be sent a ballot and must update their registration.
How do I check my registration?
Anyone with a Colorado driver’s license or ID can visit GoVoteColorado.com and select Find my registration to check on their registration status. At that website, voters can update any out-of-date information by clicking on the “change my address” or “change my party affiliation” links.
Voters can also use the site to find an in-person voting location or drop-off box in their county. They can also use it to check on the status of their mailed-in ballot.
Is it too late to register?
Colorado is a same-day voter registration state.
That means if you are a real procrastinator, you can show up on Nov. 6 at a polling center and register to vote.
Otherwise, people who register by Oct. 29 should receive a ballot in the mail. (But don’t even think about mailing it back if you get a mail ballot after that date — you’ll need to drop your ballot off in person or vote in person.)
It’s recommended that you don’t wait until the last minute to register.
In-person county polling places open on Oct. 22. To find a polling location near you, visit your record at GoVoteColorado.com.
How do I return my ballot?
Ballots must be in the possession of your county’s clerk by 7 p.m. on Nov. 6. Ballots received after that deadline won’t count, even if they’re postmarked before Election Day.
That means you should fill out your ballot and mail it back at least a week before Election Day.
And yes, you must pay for your own postage. How much postage is required depends on which county you live in and how long the ballot is. You can call your county’s clerk to find out how much postage is required.
One single “forever” stamp likely won’t be enough. For instance, postage to mail your ballot back costs 71 cents in Denver, Eagle and Arapahoe counties this election.
(Note: If you turn in your ballot and its short on postage, don’t fret. The U.S. Postal Service will still get it to your county’s election officials.)
If you are returning your ballot less than a week before Election Day — or if you don’t want to pay the postage it costs to mail it — you can turn it in at a 24-hour drop-off location. Only two of Colorado’s 64 counties — San Juan and Hinsdale — don’t have a 24-hour drop box.
Why should I mail/turn in my ballot quickly?
You know all those annoying mailers/phone calls/texts you’ve been receiving about candidates? Well, once you turn in your ballot those should stop.
Also, getting your ballot in early helps county clerks count them faster — which means faster results on election night.
What if I will be out of town when ballots are out? Or overseas?
You can still vote, but you need to take some action.
If you are in the U.S., you can visit GoVoteColorado.com and provide the address where you want your ballot mailed.
Anyone overseas can apply for an overseas ballot at that website. If you haven’t left home yet but will be overseas during the election, you can pick up a mail ballot packet early at your county clerk’s office.
If you want to get ahead of the ball and start researching what’s on your ballot this year, visit the Colorado Secretary of State’s “view my sample ballot” page. Simply enter your address to see what you’ll be voting on.