Yes, It’s Too Late To Mail Your Ballot, And Other Last-Minute Voting Questions Answered

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6min 15sec
<p>(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)</p>
<p>Boxes of ballots at the Arapahoe County Elections Facility in Littleton, Colorado, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018.</p>
Photo: Ballot Processing 10 | Boxes of ballots WIDE
Boxes of ballots at the Arapahoe County Elections Facility in Littleton, Colorado, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018.

More than a million Coloradans have already voted in this year's election. With a million ballots come a lot of questions, and we've heard from a lot concerned voters through our Colorado Wonders project. Today we handle some big ones.

Graphic: Colorado Wonders logo

First off: It is too late to mail your ballot. Don't do it. It won't get there in time and it won't be counted. There are lots and lots and lots of drop boxes out there and you can find the ones near you at

I didn't know my ballot costs more than one forever stamp to mail before I sent it. Will it get delivered anyway? - Jared Scott

Yes. USPS will deliver your mailed-on-time ballot if it only has one stamp. The postal service doesn't like to publicize this, for obvious reasons, but it's not going to disenfranchise you over a couple of stamps. They deliver the ballots, but your county clerk's office has to make up the difference. So it's not really a freebie. You're either paying for the stamp -- or with your tax dollars.

When are ballots counted; if tallied early, how is this kept secret; if tallied all on Election Day, how do they handle the volume? - Annabeth Headrick

Ballots are tallied before the election, but not counted up until the polls close. Workers open the envelope as they arrive, verify the signatures and run them through tabulating machines. Those scan the ballots and record how each person voted, but they don't just automatically add it all up. That data isn't calculated and revealed until the polls close and someone hits "tabulate." That's how you can get this giant batch of returns really soon after 7 p.m. on election night.

This is also why everyone involved in the election process -- and those of us who cover it, and those of you who like going to bed at a reasonable hour -- really want voters to return their ballots as early as possible. That way officials can have as many already scanned in as possible when the polls close. That can make for much earlier election results when the races aren't close.

How closely are signatures on ballots compared to voter signature cards? My signature has changed drastically since I was 18; should I worry? - Heidi Wicks

Yes, your ballot may be flagged if the signature on your ballot doesn't appear to match the one on your drivers license. Ballot signatures are compared against whatever the state has on file, which is usually what you gave the DMV. And so yes, if your John Hancock has changed a lot since you got your license, there is a chance your ballot will be flagged. What happens in those cases is you should get a notice giving you the opportunity to come in, validate your signature, and have your ballot counted.

There are a couple ways you can check to make sure your ballot was counted. You can look it up at, or in more populous counties you can sign up for ballot tracking and get text alerts on your phone when the clerk receives your ballot and when it's accepted. That's something you can usually find at your county clerk's website.