As 3 million ballots make their way across the state and into voters’ mailboxes for the November election, Secretary of State Wayne Williams has one candid piece of advice for voters:
Be thorough, but don't wait until the last minute to vote.
"You wanna take the time to study the various issues and candidates, but don’t wait too long,” Williams said, "I think it’s better not to wait to the very last minute to turn it in because something could come up. My rule of thumb is turn it in on the Monday before."
The two-sheet ballot features more than a dozen Colorado-wide measures alongside candidates for local, state and federal offices.
- Need Some Ballot Assistance? Read The Colorado Voter’s Guide To The 2018 Election
The next most-important thing: Do you have your ballot?
No. You haven't received it yet because ballots were mailed Oct. 15, but expect it soon. However, if you don't have it by Oct. 19, you may not be an active voter. That's not the same thing as being unregistered, said Lynn Bartels, spokesperson for the secretary of state's office.
"Ballots only go to active voters," Bartels said, "If you’re an inactive voter, it means that your county clerk tried to mail you something and it came back as undeliverable. Because ballots don’t forward, you won’t get one."
Not to worry. A visit to govotecolorado.com will help you update your registration. It will also tell you when your ballot was mailed, give you a list of voter service centers and in-person polling location in your area, and provide you county and district information.
If you do this by Oct. 22 you can still receive a ballot in the mail. If you miss this date, you can head to a voter service center and get a ballot in person. The final deadline to register as a voter and still receive a ballot in the mail is Oct. 29.
Colorado law allows you to register through Election Day, but if you miss the Oct. 29 deadline, you will have to appear in person at a voter and polling center to pick up a ballot or to vote.
Voting in Colorado doesn't necessarily mean rushing to the polls in November. There are several other avenues that make voting easy-peasy.
Vote By Mail
The United State Postal Service has been mailing and collecting ballots for Colorado elections for the past four years.
David Rupert, spokesperson for USPS, said that it only makes sense to fill out your ballot ahead of time, especially if you're depending on snail-mail to get it there.
"In the state of Colorado the post mark does not count. So if you’re waiting until Tuesday, Nov. 7 to mail your ballot, it’s too late. It will not count. If you’re waiting ‘til the last minute, we recommend that you take those in yourself to a designated drop point,” Rupert said. "We’re recommending that after Halloween, if you haven’t mailed your ballot back, then you take those in yourself. That’s to allow time for tabulation, time for processing, so, it’s just good."
And there’s the stamp conundrum: Should you put one stamp or two?
This year, it’s two. Because there are so many items and the ballot is two sheets long, you will need two stamps. You can also read the directions on your ballot for extra assurance, as they outline the postage requirements for you.
Vote By Drop-Off
The secretary of state’s office pays to place 24/7 drop boxes around the state so that you can drop your ballot off at any time of day or night, any day of the week.
You can also drop your ballot off at the office of the county clerk and recorder or a designated election official.
Finally you can take your ballot to any voter service and polling center or drop-off location. You can find that information on govotecolorado.com
Side note: Even if you’re not sending your ballot in the mail, you still need to slip it into the return envelope when you drop if off.
The powers at be all recommend voting early, but if you’re the type who likes to head to the polls make sure you give yourself enough time to do the deed.
All ballots must be cast by 7 p.m. on Nov. 6 for them to count. If you’re standing in line at your polling location by that time you’ve made it.
You can also register and cast a vote at a voter service polling center up until 7 p.m. on Nov. 6.
And, Yes, Ballot Selfies
Good news for those out there hoping to document their act of civic duty: Ballot selfies are allowed.
Gov. Hickenlooper signed into law last March a bill that permits a selfie with even a completed ballot.
What you can't do is use that image to get anything of value.
"So you can’t sell it, you can’t use it to get free pizza because you voted for a particular candidate, you can’t monetize that in any way. So you can take a selfie, but you can’t use it for gain," Williams said.
With the plethora of options for voters one thing is certain: No excuses. Get out and vote.