Analysis

Mail Ballots in the 2014 Colorado Election

In November 2014, Colorado held its first general election since the passage of a 2013 law that required the state to mail ballots to all registered voters before Election Day. The law did not, however, institute mail-only voting in the state; in-person voting is still permitted on or before Election Day at Voter Service and Polling Centers (VSPCs). In Denver County, for instance, voters could go to any of 13 VSPCs operating during the early voting period and 25 open on Election Day to surrender their mail ballots and vote in person or register and vote at the same time.

Despite this provision, the overwhelming majority of voters in Denver County did use their mail ballots. Surprisingly, however, 72 percent of county voters chose not to return their mail ballots via the Postal Service, opting instead to drop them off at a VSPC or other designated drop-off location. Twenty-three 24-hour drop boxes and 16 drive-up locations—some at VSPCs—were available across the city. In a likely related development, Denver recorded a dramatic reduction in the number of provisional ballots cast, compared with the 2010 election:

  • 6,388 of 194,648 total ballots cast (3.28 percent) in 2010 were provisional.
  • 178 of 235,418 total ballots cast (0.08 percent) in 2014 were provisional.

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