Here’s how to vote in Denver so that your vote definitely counts

You might have heard there’s an election in November.

A ballot tent on Bannock Street. June 16, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)voting; vote; ballot; poll; election; denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
A ballot tent on Bannock Street. June 16, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) voting; vote; ballot; poll; election; denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
Votes go here. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

You might have heard there’s an election in November, perhaps one of the most consequential in a generation or a lifetime or a century or they’re all the same who cares Jill Stein! Depending on your Facebook feed.

We’ve got the answers to what we think are the most common questions about voting in Colorado in 2016. Including: Is it legal to sell my vote?

If you have any questions you don’t see here, please drop me a line at and I’ll try to get them answered.

Am I registered to vote?

You can check your registration online at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. You can also register to vote at that link or update your address.

What’s the last date I can register?

Colorado has same-day registration, so you can register until about 6:59 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8. Make sure you bring an acceptable form of identification if you go this route.

To get a ballot in the mail, you have to register at least eight days before the election, but you can still vote in person if you register after that.

What is an acceptable form of identification?

A valid Colorado driver’s license or state ID works, but there’s a whole list here. Other options include a valid U.S. passport, military ID, pilot’s license, birth certificate, naturalization documents or tribal ID card.

What if I’m a college student or active-duty military?

You need to be a legal resident of Colorado to register to vote here. Living in Colorado as a college student or member of the military doesn’t make you a legal resident of the state unless you do other things that go along with legal residency, like changing your driver’s license and vehicle registration.

Colorado has all-mail elections now. What does that mean?

Ballots will be mailed to all active, registered voters. You can vote at home and drop your ballot in the mail. You can vote at home and drop your ballot off at a polling station. Ballots have to be received by the time the polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, so if it’s just a few days before, it’s safer to drop it off than to mail it.

Or you can go to a polling station and vote in person if you just like the ritual. It’s not literally ALL mail.

See an interactive map of Denver voting locations here. Polling stations open Oct. 24.

When will ballots be mailed?

Ballots go out Oct. 17.

You can vote at any time, and because political parties and campaigns check the lists daily to see who has returned a ballot, you can spare yourself phone calls and door-knockers if you vote early.

What’s an active voter? Am I one?

You’re an active voter if you’ve voted in a recent election and still live at the same address you did last time you voted.

Election mail, including ballots, cannot be forwarded, so if you’ve moved since the last time you voted or if you haven’t voted in a while, you might be an inactive voter. You get put in this category if a piece of elections mail gets returned to your county elections division. You can check your status online and update it if necessary.

Should I sign my ballot envelope?

Yes! You should sign your ballot envelope! This is how county elections workers make sure you and only you are voting in your name. This doesn’t mean they know how you voted. Your ballot should be inside a privacy sleeve when they remove it from the envelope. Nothing ties the ballot back to you once it is separated from its envelope.

Privacy sleeve? I don’t see a privacy sleeve with my ballot.

Denver is using the instructions that come with your ballot as the privacy sleeve this year to save paper.

“Make a ballot sandwich, place it in the return envelope, sign it and get it back to us,” advises Denver Election spokesman Alton Dillard.

I forgot to sign my ballot envelope! What do I do now?

The county elections division will be in touch with you by mail if they get a ballot from you with no signature on the envelope. You have until eight days after the election to go down and sign.

Did I accidentally get sent two ballots?

No. The ballot in Denver this year is two sheets, each with two sides. Vote both sides of both sheets.

What does this red stripe on my ballot mean?

It means that when you registered to vote, there wasn’t enough evidence you are who you say you are. Make a photocopy of one of the valid forms of ID and include it with your ballot. You’ll also have different instructions with your ballot that will tell you to do the same.

Is it legal to sell my vote?

No! It is not legal to sell your vote! But yes, I did get this question recently. It’s a misdemeanor under Colorado law. It’s also illegal under federal law to offer to pay for a vote, to offer your vote for sale and to accept payment for your vote. It’s punishable by up to a year in prison or two years if “the violation was willful.” It would also be wrong.

Assistant Editor Erica Meltzer can be reached at 303-502-2802, via email at or

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Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, or @meltzere.