The November 2 election is less than a week away. Issues to consider: the future of roommates, neighborhoods, parks, libraries, government facilities, cannabis taxes, homeless shelters, a new arena, who runs the public schools, who hires the city’s law-enforcement watchdog and so much more.
So you think, “Hey, unlike the vast majority of registered voters, during this not-so-general-election season, I want a say in Denver’s future.” (Check out the Denverite voter guide for a primer on citywide issues and the CPR voter guide for a breakdown of statewide issues.)
One hitch: Your ballot never arrived in the mail.
You’re not alone — and there’s no need to panic. You can still vote. Even if you aren’t currently a registered voter in Colorado, you can still sign up, even on Election Day.
What about those missing ballots?
“We’ve gotten some calls about undeliverables,” said Alton Dillard, the spokesman for the Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez’s office, which is tasked with mailing out ballots. “It happens every election.”
It’s not just in Denver that Colorado ballots never arrived, but the Secretary of State’s office is not seeing concerning numbers and has no open investigations into the issue.
“There appears to be a slight uptick in undeliverable ballots statewide, which is typical after a General Election year,” Dillard explained. “We are up maybe a 1/2 percent over the 2019 election in Denver.
Many things can go wrong. The United States Postal Service can make mistakes. People change their addresses to make sure they can vote in a presidential elections and occasionally forget to change them again for local elections.
“Doesn’t appear to be a postal issue, so we are looking to see if anything is out of the ordinary,” he added.
When should you have received your ballot and what do you do if it never arrived?
The process works like this: Ballots are sent out 22 days before the election. If voters haven’t received them within 10 days, they should get in touch with the Clerk and Recorder’s office.
Whether your ballot is missing, damaged or filled out poorly (as in, you changed your mind at the last minute but before turning it in), you can get a replacement.
First things first, go to the Secretary of State’s website and make sure your info is correct. Then go to the Office of the Clerk and Recorder’s website and register for curbside ballot pickup. There you can pick a time and place to get a fresh ballot. Head to the location and an election judge will help you out.
There are currently 10 sites the Clerk and Recorder’s office is listing online around town, from the Blair-Caldwell Library to the Barnum Recreation Center, where you can do so. These locations are open every day, except Sunday, between Oct. 27 and Nov. 2.
If you get your ballot, should you still mail it in?
Mail-in voting only works if you send in your ballot on time. The cutoff was eight days ahead of the election — Monday, Oct. 25. At this point, if you send your vote through the mail, it will not get counted.
Instead, you need to take your ballot to one of more than fifty voting boxes around town, all with 24-hour video surveillance to ensure no monkey business.
Are people actually voting this year?
Voter numbers are significantly lower this year than they were during the General Election. That’s not exactly shocking, but it’s a shame. The power of a single vote in a municipal election is much greater than in a presidential election and has more power to set policy, figure out how government does (and doesn’t) spend money and how the city and state run.
As of Tuesday, just 5.48 percent of the electorate had participated. While you can register to vote up until election day in Colorado, as of now, 441,192 people in Denver who are registered have not done their civic duty.
The latest age breakdown suggests that older voters’ priorities will sway the election mightily. The heaviest voters, 65 and up, have turned in 11,440 ballots, followed by 55 to 64 (4,146), 25 to 34 (3,319), 35 to 44 (3,108), 45 to 54 (2,938) and 18 to 24 (624).
People over 55, who represent just 21.6 percent of Denver’s population, according to the 2019 American Community Survey, have turned in 15,586 ballots (60.9 percent of the turnout so far); people between 18 and 54, who make up 59.3 percent of the population, have turned in 9,989 (39.05 percent).
All that could change in the following days, depending on who still plans to vote.
“Denver voters have a tendency to sit on their ballots until Monday and Tuesday,” Dillard said. “We’re always nudging them along. If you do end up standing in line, it’s because you waited till the last second.”
For more information about the Denver election, visit the Office of the Clerk and Recorder online.