By Sandy Wiegand, Copyeditor and Writer at Joining Vision and Action
As individuals whose work deals largely with making the world a better place, you already know the importance of voting in the November 6 election. You don’t need a lecture. But given the hefty to-do lists of the folks saving the world these days, maybe you could also stand to save some time. So I’ve compiled the answers to a few questions you might have about the voting process in Colorado. What follows is a sort of if–then guide. As the books’ tagline says, you’re the star of the story.
Registration: methods and deadlines
Did you know that if you have a Colorado ID, you can register online to vote? You can even start the process by texting CO to 28683. Also, if all the talk about voter purging has made you a tad nervous, you can use the same website to verify that you are already registered. But if you want to receive a ballot in the mail, you need to register either online or in person by Monday, October 29.
Got stuck in an avalanche and can’t make the October 29 deadline and get a mail-in ballot? Here’s some great news: Colorado allows you to register in person to vote at any time up to and including Election Day. Just head to a voter service and polling center (VSPC) in your county. The nonpartisan Just Vote Colorado site has an interactive map that will show you where they are. For destination, enter “Voter Service and Polling Center.” Then enter your county and address to populate the map. Below the map, each site’s hours are listed.
By the way, if you don’t have a Colorado ID or even a Social Security number, you can still register to vote, according to the second page of the Colorado Voter Registration Form. Here’s the list of other identification accepted.
Voting: methods and deadlines
So, say you registered on time to receive your ballot in the mail. You’ve filled out your ballot, signed it and added enough postage. (According to The Colorado Sun, ballots for Denver, Arapahoe and other counties will cost 71 cents to mail—i.e., more than a single “forever” stamp. You can call your county clerk to check on postage in your county.) Be sure to mail your ballot so that it arrives by 7 p.m. Election Day. (The Sun suggests mailing it a week early to be certain.)
Wait, your ballot just came in the mail, and it’s just a few days till Election Day. You’ll need to hand deliver your mail-in ballot. Where to take it? Use the same map on Just Vote Colorado to get a list of sites (both the VSPCs and additional ballot drop-off sites) where you can drop it off—right through Election Day. Watch out for bears and mountain lions on the way.
Oh … no. Not another pitfall. You’ve just gotten over a nasty bout of Plague and you didn’t get a chance to get a mail-in ballot? You’ll need to vote in person. At Just Vote Colorado, you can click on the Vote in Person tab, put in your info, and you’ll be shown a list of sites in your area where you can do so. Voting has officially begun in Colorado, so check out the sites’ opening times listed below the map. You don’t have to wait until November 6 to vote in person.
If you vote in person, however, you’ll need to bring identification. Fortunately, Colorado is less strict than some states regarding the type of ID acceptable. For example, you can bring a recent utility bill (though I’d suggest bringing your state ID if you have one!).
If you haven’t had time to research it or you’re getting confused about what’s on your ballot, sample ballots—specific to your address—are available at the Secretary of State’s site.
And if you’re not familiar with the candidates or the myriad ballot issues this year, resources exist to help you figure out just what they’re saying (!) and where you stand. In addition to multiple guides by news sites (e.g., The Colorado Sun, The Denverite) and some of JVA’s nonprofit partners (e.g., The Bell Policy Center, The League of Women Voters of Colorado), the nonpartisan Ballotpedia site also describes each ballot measure. It tells you in plain language what voting “yes” means and what voting “no” means, lists supporters and opposition and their arguments, and includes links to editorials on the topics and more.
Still got questions? Need a rope vine to pull you from the pit? Here are some other sites that might have answers for you:
- Colorado Secretary of State FAQs
- Just Vote Colorado FAQs
- Voters with Convictions FAQs (Hint, felons who have served their time have the right to vote in Colorado.)
Congratulations! You made it through alive. I’m so glad. This year, especially, we really need you.