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Politics and Government

Did you spill soup on your ballot? Leave it in a rental car? Here’s what to do.

Short answer: Spend some time at govotecolorado.com

A 2018 Colorado ballot. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
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Now that ballots for the Nov. 6 election have landed on kitchen counters across Colorado, voters have some last-minute questions.

Based on what they asked just before the 2016 election, the prompts cover everything from “What if I spilled coffee on it?” to “My kids filled in the bubbles, now what?”

Here are some answers to help before you track down the phone number for the local county clerk’s office and explain your personal food-spilling, unsupervised-kid, lack-of-a-driver’s-license or part-time-resident story.

The following are actual questions posed by Colorado voters, edited for length and clarity. The Colorado Sun received them through ProPublica’s Electionland project, a national effort to report on problems that prevent eligible voters from casting ballots.

MORE: The Colorado Sun and ProPublica want to hear about your voting problems

The Colorado Sun is an Electionland partner, so if you have problems voting feel free to reach out to us at newsroom@coloradosun.com.

As for the answers, we received help from Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association.

Can I drop off my ballot in another county than where I live? Will it count?

Yes. As long as it’s dropped off before the polls close, the ballot will be transferred to the appropriate county where it will be counted. But don’t wait until the last minute if you want it counted by Election Day.

My ballot never came in the mail. Can I still get one? Where?

Start by verifying your address and registration at govotecolorado.com. If those are correct, give it a week or so and then, if needed, request a replacement ballot from your local county clerk or a vote center. Voting centers open by Oct. 22. You can also use govotecolorado.com to find a list of locations.

How can I vote in person on Election Day?

Find out where you can vote in your community on Election Day here.

MORE: A lot more than you might realize goes into getting your Colorado mail-in ballot from A to Z

Oops. I sent my ballot without a stamp, now what?

If you don’t have a stamp, you should bring the ballot to a drop-off location. The U.S. Postal Service will not return ballots for insufficient postage, though. If you want to make sure it was received, you can track your ballot at govotecolorado.com.

I live part time in Colorado and part time in another state, and I’m not in Colorado now. Can I still vote — in both states or just one?

Colorado law requires voters to declare a single, primary residence for voting. So no, you can’t vote in two states. Also, you must be a Colorado resident for at least 22 days prior to Election Day. In some cases, voters may be eligible to vote in two places, but only in the situation of an independent, special election for local property owners.

I’m a social worker at a hospice, and my patient might not be alive when her ballot arrives. Can she vote early?

Colorado law makes some allowances for emergency voting. Contact your county clerk.

I accidentally opened my ballot after sealing it. Now what?

No problem. Just reseal the envelope with tape or glue.

A 24-hour ballot drop off box outside the Ross-Cherry Creek branch of the Denver Public Library on Oct. 16, 2018. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

I just moved to Colorado and don’t have a Colorado driver’s license. Can I still register to vote?

You can use the last four digits of your Social Security number, but you will have to register in person at your local county clerk’s office or at vote center — and you must have been a Colorado resident for at least 22 days. Online registration requires a Colorado driver’s license.

I’m not registered to vote. Can I register in time for Election Day?

You can register online at govotecolorado.com until Oct. 29, and in person at a vote center or polling center until the polls close on Election Day.

Can I help fill out a ballot for a client who is bilingual and has cognitive disabilities?  

Colorado law allows assistance in voting, up to the discretion of the voter. A voter also can ask for assistance from an election judge at a vote center.

MORE: Read more voter guide stories from The Colorado Sun.

I left my ballot in a rental car. Can I get a new one?

You can request a replacement ballot up until Oct. 29 online, or visit a vote center through Election Day, at which point your original ballot is void. If you find the original, destroy it.

Is there a ride service for senior citizens (or others) who don’t drive but want to vote in person?

Election officials do not provide transportation services for voters, but campaigns and political parties often do.

My kids put Xs on my ballot, outside the lines of the bubbles. Is it still valid?

It’s OK. Complete the bubbles. Xs or marks outside the bubbles do not invalidate the ballot.

My husband and I switched our ballot envelopes. Do we have to get new ones?

If you still have the ballots, open the envelopes, exchange them and reseal with glue or tape. If they’ve already been mailed, they will be counted if election officials are aware of the mistake and can verify the switch. To make sure, you can track your ballot at govotecolorado.com.

A worker moves pallets of ballots fill a section of the U.S. Postal Service’s Denver Processing and Distribution Center on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. The facility will process about 2.1 million election 2018 ballots over the next several days — about two-thirds of all the ballots that will be mailed for this year’s general election in Colorado. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

I spilled coffee on my ballot. Is that OK?

This depends on how much coffee. You can request a new ballot online or at your county clerk’s office. If a ballot arrives damaged, a bipartisan team of election judges will duplicate it and count it.

What should I do with the ballots I received for my deceased father and out-of-state brother?

The best thing to do is write on the envelope that the recipient has died or moved out of Colorado and put it in a drop-off box. Election officials will update their records and hopefully you won’t get another one next time.

There is a typo in my name on my ballot. Can I still use it?

Your ballot will be processed and counted. But write on the envelope that there is a typo so your record can be updated.

What is the deadline to mail my ballot?

County clerks recommend dropping off your ballot at a drop-off location, but if you want to mail it, try to do it before Oct. 30. Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day to count. Postmark dates do not count!

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