Hundreds of voters in Denver and Arapahoe counties did not receive ballots until Election Day, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, which is working to determine whether those 828 people ever got a chance to cast votes.
Aurora’s mayoral race is currently separated by just 273 votes. Arapahoe County is among the three counties where voters were eligible to cast a ballot for that race.
The statement from Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office on Friday said the United States Postal Service did not notify her office of the issue even though they were aware of it. Secretary of State spokesperson Serena Woods said they were notified by “a third party” that the ballots had been delivered the day of the election. The ballots were all replacement ballots requested by the voters.
Ballots were initially mailed to active voters starting on Oct. 14.
“We are working with the mail-ballot vendor, the Denver and Arapahoe County Clerks, and USPS to determine which of these 828 voters did vote,” the statement from Griswold’s office said. “The USPS has failed to adequately deliver ballots, and as such, we are exploring regulatory and legislative options to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Woods said in a text the office is trying to determine how many of the ballots were in Arapahoe and in Denver. The statement noted Colorado’s election model allows people to vote in-person in addition to returning their ballots by mail.
The distribution of those ballots is still unclear. A statement released by Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul López on Friday afternoon said “approximately” 43 Denver voters “may have been affected.”
“We are extremely disappointed to learn that ballots that should have been mailed to voters remained at The United States Postal Service General Mail Facility until Election Day. It appears those ballots have Denver or Arapahoe County zip codes and were either not scanned by the USPS at all, not scanned for delivery or scanned for delivery on Election Day or the day after,” López said in the statement.
“Our data scans show that our final batch of supplemental ballots were mailed in a timely fashion from our print vendor in Washington state because the scans showed 100% and voters that were in that supplemental batch returned ballots to us,” he added.
In a statement Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the USPS wrote: “In the midst of some disappointing comments made by the Secretary of State, we wish to add the following clarification.
All ballots — including replacement ballots — are printed and mailed by an out-of-state vendor. Due to this process, it is not uncommon for the Postal Service to handle replacement ballots through the election period. On Tuesday, Colorado letter carriers received 838 replacement ballots. Letter carriers then ensured the replacement ballots were delivered before the polls closed through special runs. We are proud of the work our employees displayed through the election process. We continue to work with election officials to generate processes for last-minute, replacement ballot requests.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.