OSU Navigation Bar

Election Law @ Moritz Home Page

Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz


2008 Key Questions for Key States

Colorado

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Colorado can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Elected individual (R)

Chief election authority: Secretary of State. Rev. Stat. § 1-1-107.

Method of selection: Elected. Rev. Stat. § 1-1-107.

Current officer: Mike Coffman (R). Worker didn’t use election data for personal gain, audit finds, Denver Rocky Mountain News, December 4, 2007. (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

D leaning/appointed

Method of selection: Gubernatorial appointment. Colo. Const. Art. VI, § 24.

Justices: Mary Mullarkey (D), Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr. (D), Alex J. Martinez (appointed by Romer (D)), Michael L. Bender (D), Nancy E. Rice (D), Nathan B. Coats (R), Allison Eid (appointed by Owens, (R)) (Last updated 12/19/07)

Sources:

  • Lawmakers unveil plan to reshape legislature, simplify boundaries, AP Alert – Political, April 28, 2005, Steven K. Paulson.
  • Bipartisan coalition fights court purge, Denver Post, August 5, 2006.
  • State high court justice resigns, Rebecca Love Kourlis to leave bench Jan. 10, won’t reveal plans, Denver Rocky Mountain News, December 6, 2005.
  • Court bars immigration vote, Colo. Justices keep initiative off ballot, Denver Post, June 13, 2006.  

Local Administrator Training

One-time training/voluntary

The secretary of state shall establish a certification program for county clerks and recorders and their employees. CRS 1-1-301, 1-1-302. Election officials shall obtain this certification within two years of taking office. CRS 1-1-302. However, there is no consequence for failure to obtain the certification.

Who tallies precinct results?

County canvassing board - partisanship constrained

The county canvass board tallies precinct results.  The canvass board consists of the county clerk and recorder along with one or more electors appointed by each of the county chairpersons of the two major political parties. CRS 1-10-101.

Who counts provisional ballots?

Local election authority - partisanship unconstrained

The county clerk determines whether to count provisional ballots. 8 CO ADC 1505-1 26.4 et seq. County clerks are elected.

Who performs state canvass?

Secretary of State - elected

The Secretary of State canvasses county returns. CRS 1-10-103.

Local Administrator

County official - elected

At the local level, Colorado elections are run by an official known as the county clerk and recorder.  CRS 1-1-110  The clerk and recorder is elected to a four-year term. CRS 30-10-401.

Local Administrators' Party Affiliation

Balanced/elected

County Population County Official Method of selection Voting technology
Denver County 556,835 Stephanie O’Malley (?) Elected (appointed until recently) DRE touchscreens – Sequoia AVC Edge Model II is VVPAT capable. The county also has Optech 400-C CCOS optical scanners.
El Paso County 554,574 Robert Balink (R) Elected Diebold Accuvote OS CCOS scanners and Accuvote TSx DRE touchscreens with VVPAT
Jefferson County 526,351 Pam Anderson (R) [1] Elected ES&S Model 650 CCOS scanners and ES&S iVotronic DRE touchscreen machines
Arapahoe County 522,812 Nancy Doty (R) [2] Elected Sequoia DRE touchscreens – AVC Edge Model II, Sequoia CCOS scanners – Optech 400-C
Adams County 389,857 Karen Long (D) Elected Touchscreens - phone call to confirm details was not returned
Boulder County 278,917 Hillary Hall (D) [3] Elected Paper ballots counted centrally on Hart scanners
Larimer County 268,872 Scott Doyle (D) [4] Elected Premier Accuvote OS scanner (central count)/ Accuvote TSX touchscreen machines
Douglas County 237,963 Jack Arrowsmith (?) Elected Hart eSlate DRE (dial controller); paper ballots counted centrally on Hart tabulators
Weld County 219,257 Steve Moreno (?) Elected Premier touchscreen
Pueblo County 150,171 Gilbert Ortiz (?) Elected Sequoia AVC Edge DRE; Insight OS machines
Total 3,705,609 (80.5% of pop.)
Whole state 4,601,403
  • [1] Voters rejecting hiring policy shift, Denver Rocky Mountain News, November 8, 2006.
  • [2] Arapahoe swears in Doty as new clerk, Denver Post, February 29, 2004.
  • [3] Meanwhile in Boulder Vote-counting speed improves from ‘abysmal’ to ‘bad’, Boulder Daily Camera, November 10, 2006.
  • [4] Voters rejecting hiring policy shift, Denver Rocky Mountain News, November 8, 2006.

Voter Registration

Registration Deadline

29 days before election

Registration must occur no later than twenty-nine days before the upcoming election to be effective for that election. CRSA 1-2-201. Mail applications received after the deadline will be effective if postmarked before the deadline. CRSA 1-2-208. Mail applications that have no postmark will be effective if received no later than five days after the deadline. CRSA 1-2-208.

Notice of Registration Error

Yes

Officials must notify voters whenever registration applications are incomplete or inaccurate. CRSA 1-2-509.

Opportunity to Correct after Registration Deadline

Yes

Applicants may correct inaccurate or missing information “at any time prior to the actual voting” to make their applications effective for the upcoming election. CRSA 1-2-509. The law also specifically states that applicants may supply omitted age and citizenship information after the deadline. CRSA 1-2-501.

HAVA matching standards

Exact match standard

Colorado has detailed regulations on the registration verification process. 8 CO ADC 1505-1. It defines verification as the matching of name, date of birth and one identification number. 8 CO ADC 1505-1 30.4.1. An applicant is not verified unless all three of these items are verified (although common variations of the first name must be used to try to obtain a match).  Applicants' names and dates of birth are entered into the system and an attempt is made to match the data with records in the DMV and state registration database. Matching is not currently performed against the Social Security database. If the identification number returned by the search does not match the number provided, there is no match and the voter is not verified. 8 CO ADC 1505-1 30.3.4. County workers are authorized by the regulations to correct minor errors. In addition, similar names, common variants and nicknames are used to try to find a match. 8 CO ADC 1505-1 30.4.1.

If there is no number provided, the applicant is not registered. 8 CO ADC 1505-1 30.5.4.

One area of confusion is what happens when a voter provides his or her social security number but no driver's license or state ID number. The form of the standard Colorado state voter registration application suggests this situation is a possibility (see here).  A representative of the Secretary of State's office did not get back to us about this question.

Will the inability to verify social security number or driver's license number prevent registration?

Voter may cast an ordinary ballot after showing ID at polls

Unmatched voters must show minimum HAVA ID at the polls (current and valid photo ID, or current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter).  8 CO ADC 1505-1-30.  Voters who do not present ID must cast a provisional ballot.

 

Challenges

Pre-election challenges

Challenges decided by local election official

Any registered voter may challenge any other by filing a written challenge. CRS 1-9-101. The writing must state the basis for the challenge, facts supporting the challenge, and must include "some documentary evidence to support the basis of the challenge." The deadline for filing the challenge is sixty days before the election. The county clerk shall notify the parties and hold a challenge hearing within 30 days. The challenger has the burden of proof. The county clerk shall issue a decision no later than 5 days after the hearing.

If the clerk finds that the person is not eligible, the registration will be canceled. If the clerk finds some evidence of impropriety, but not enough to cancel the registration, the clerk will mark the voter as inactive. This means that the voter's registration will be canceled after failure to vote in two general elections. CRS 1-2-605. Otherwise the challenge will be dismissed. The clerk's decision may be appealed to the local trial court within three days. CRS 1-9-101. The hearing must occur within 3 to 5 days of the date of filing. The court must issue its decision within forty-eight hours. The decision is not appealable, except that the state supreme court may hear such a case at its discretion.

Election day challenges

Challenged voter may cast a regular ballot after signing affidavit

Poll workers or poll watchers may challenge voters on election day. CRS 1-9-201. Challenged voters may still cast a regular ballot if they answer to the satisfaction of poll workers certain enumerated questions regarding their eligibility. Challenged voters may also cast a regular ballot by signing an oath concerning registration and eligibility. Otherwise, challenged voters must cast a provisional ballot.

Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballot - name not in poll book

Ballot will count if voter was registered and eligible

Provisional ballots will count if officials determine that the voter was eligible to vote. CRSA 1-8.5-105. To make this determination, officials will look at felony records, local and state voter registration databases, and the department of motor vehicles Motor Voter database. 8 CO ADC 1505-1.

Provisional ballot - voter cast ballot in wrong precinct

Ballot may be at least partially counted

Provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct will never be fully counted but, as long as the ballot was cast in the correct county, the votes for federal office will count.  CRS 1-8.5-109.

Exception:  If the voter cast a ballot in the wrong precinct because he or she moved from one Colorado precinct or county to another within 29 days of the election, votes for federal and statewide offices shall count.  CRS 1-8.5-108.

Provisional Ballot Casting Rate - 2006

>2 percent of ballots cast at polls

3.77%

Provisional Ballot Counting Rate - 2006

80-90 percent

85.1%

Early and Absentee Voting

Convenience Voting

Early voting and "no excuse" absentee voting

Early voting is permitted in the 15-day period prior to each election. CRS 1-8-102.

Any voter may cast an absentee ballot. CRS 1-8-102. Applications should be recieved no sooner than January 1st of the election year and no later than the Friday before the election. CRS 1-8-105. If the voter wishes to receive the ballot by mail, the application must be received 7 days prior to the election. Absentee ballots may be delivered personally or mailed to the designated election official. CRS 1-8-113. Mailed-in ballots must be delivered no later than 7 p.m. on the day of the election.

Voting Technology

Voting Technology

Mixed

County Population County Official Method of selection Voting technology
Denver County 556,835 Stephanie O’Malley (?) Elected (appointed until recently) DRE touchscreens – Sequoia AVC Edge Model II is VVPAT capable. The county also has Optech 400-C CCOS optical scanners.
El Paso County 554,574 Robert Balink (R) Elected Diebold Accuvote OS CCOS scanners and Accuvote TSx DRE touchscreens with VVPAT
Jefferson County 526,351 Pam Anderson (R) [1] Elected ES&S Model 650 CCOS scanners and ES&S iVotronic DRE touchscreen machines
Arapahoe County 522,812 Nancy Doty (R) [2] Elected Sequoia DRE touchscreens – AVC Edge Model II, Sequoia CCOS scanners – Optech 400-C
Adams County 389,857 Karen Long (D) Elected Touchscreens - phone call to confirm details was not returned
Boulder County 278,917 Hillary Hall (D) [3] Elected Paper ballots counted centrally on Hart scanners
Larimer County 268,872 Scott Doyle (D) [4] Elected Premier Accuvote OS scanner (central count)/ Accuvote TSX touchscreen machines
Douglas County 237,963 Jack Arrowsmith (?) Elected Hart eSlate DRE (dial controller); paper ballots counted centrally on Hart tabulators
Weld County 219,257 Steve Moreno (?) Elected Premier touchscreen
Pueblo County 150,171 Gilbert Ortiz (?) Elected Sequoia AVC Edge DRE; Insight OS machines
Total 3,705,609 (80.5% of pop.)
Whole state 4,601,403
  • [1] Voters rejecting hiring policy shift, Denver Rocky Mountain News, November 8, 2006.
  • [2] Arapahoe swears in Doty as new clerk, Denver Post, February 29, 2004.
  • [3] Meanwhile in Boulder Vote-counting speed improves from ‘abysmal’ to ‘bad’, Boulder Daily Camera, November 10, 2006.
  • [4] Voters rejecting hiring policy shift, Denver Rocky Mountain News, November 8, 2006.

Does state law require a VVPAT?

No

Currently Colorado does not require VVPAT, but all voting systems must have the capability of producing voter-verifiable paper record by January 1, 2010. CRS 1-5-102

Polling Place Operations

Who are poll workers?

Appointed by local administrator/some minority party representation

In Colorado, the county clerk and recorder appoints poll workers. CRS 1-6-101, 1-6-104, 1-6-103. If there is an even number of election judges, half must be from one party, half from another. CRS 1-6-109. In counties where polling places have odd numbers of election judges, each major party gets an extra judge in one half of the precincts as determined by the county clerk.

Minor political parties may also submit recommendations to the county clerk and recorder and unaffiliated voters may offer to serve as election judges as well. CRS 1-6-103.7. Minor party or unaffiliated voters will be appointed only if the major political parties do not supply enough election judges. CRS 1-6-104.

 

Poll worker training

Once every four years

Election judges are required to attend one class of instruction prior to the first election in the election cycle in which the person will serve as an election judge. § 1-6-101. Although there is no definitions section in the statute, officials interpret "elections cycle" to mean a four-year period. The county clerk conducts the class of instruction no more than 45 days prior to each election. The clerk may require an election judge to take more than one class.

There is also language in the statute that suggests poll workers must attend training prior to each election in which they serve. This arguably contradicts the language cited in the previous paragraph.

A local administrator from Colorado stated that most counties perform the training only once per election cycle, but that El Paso County performs it before every election.

Polling hours extension

Unclear

No information was found regarding whether administrators, or the courts, are authorized to extend polling hours.

In 2006, the state Democratic Party asked a judge to extend voting in Denver County, where computer breakdowns had prevented voting. Computer glitches, breakdowns mar vote in several US states, Agence France Presse English Wire, November 8, 2006. However, the judge denied the order.

The hours of voting are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CRSA 1-7-101.

Voters who arrive at the polling place before the close of polls are entitled to vote. CRSA 1-7-101.

Polling place closing times - local times

7:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

9:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

Voter ID requirements

Non-photo ID required with current address

Colorado requires voters to provide ID with the voter’s current address on it. The following forms are acceptable: 1) a valid Colorado driver’s license; 2) a valid identification card issued by the department of revenue; 3) a valid US passport; 4) a valid employee identification card with a photograph issued by the US government or political subdivision of Colorado; 5) a valid pilot’s license; 6) a valid US military identification card; 7) a copy of a current utility bill or other government document that shows the name and address of the elector; 8) a valid medicare card; 9) a certified copy of a birth certificate; 10) certified documentation of naturalization; 11) a valid student identification card with a photograph issued by an institution of higher education. CRS 1-1-104, 1-7-110.

Consequences of failure to present ID

Voters must cast provisional ballot

A voter who is unable to produce identification may cast a provisional ballot. CRS 1-7-110.

Follow-up required of voter

Voter must return with ID

No rules were found in Colorado requiring voters to return with ID in order to have their provisional ballots count. Rather, the rules state simply that provisional ballots will be counted if the voter was registered and eligible to vote. CRSA 1-8.5-106. To make this determination, officials will look at records of convicted felons, state voter registration databases, and the state department of motor vehicles database. 8 CO ADC 1505-1-26.4.4. No mention is made of having to return with ID.

Nevertheless, a local administrator stated that Colorado officials do indeed require provisional voters to return with acceptable ID.

Emergency Preparedness

Natural Disasters or Emergencies

No election-specific emergency provision

The governor may "[s]uspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or the orders, rules, or regulations of any state agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any statute, order, rule, or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency."  CRS 24-32-2104.  It is unclear whether this provision would apply to elections. 

The Colorado Secretary of State's website has a document called Disaster Planning Guide for Election Officials.  It contains recommendations that local election officials should follow to create their own emergency plans in case of bad weather, flooding, or bomb threats.  The guide emphasizes preparation, making community contacts, taking advantage of community knowledge and resources and putting the safety of pollworkers and voters first.

Ballot Shortages

Local officials will restock

Local election officials must supply specially marked substitute ballots to polling places in the event of a shortage. CRSA 1-5-411. If the substitute ballots do not arrive in time to allow further voting, poll workers may create unofficial ballots using whatever supplies they have on hand. The unofficial ballots should resemble as closely as possible the design of official ballots.

Sample ballots were used in the November 2006 general election when provisional ballots ran out. Ballot shortage forces desperate measure, Rocky Mountain News, November 8, 2006.

What if touchscreens break down?

Poll workers can create makeshift ballots

In the event of touchscreen malfunction, officials should contact the Secretary of State for authorization to use provisional ballots or mail-in ballots as an emergency voting method. 8 CO ADC 1505-1 43.8.8.2. Rule 43.10 requires that local officials include this type of emergency planning with their "contingency plan" that they must file with the Secretary of State. 8 CO ADC 1505-1 43.10. In addition, the Secretary recommends that officials keep adequate supplies of paper ballots on hand for just this type of circumstance (see here, p. 8).

Several Colorado counties offer their voters the choice of voting a paper ballot or an electronic one, so the voting systems are already viewed as interchangeable

Post-Election Processes

State certification deadline

First week of December

The Secretary of State must total the returns received from all counties no later than 24 days after the election and determine if a recount is necessary. CRS 1-10-103. The Secretary of State must certify the results on or before the 35th day after the general election. CRS 1-11-107.

Election contest deadline

30-31 days after state certification

The filing deadline for presidential contests is 30 days after the canvass by the Secretary of State. Rule 100, Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. Colorado courts have interpreted this type of provision to mean 30 days after the official certification of the results. Taxpayers Against Congestion v. Regional Transp. Dist., 140 P.3d 343, 347 (Colo.App., 2006).

Contests for state officers must be filed with the secretary of state between 6 and 10 legislative days of the first session of the general assembly after the day of the election. CRS 1-11-205 Contests for state senator or representative must be filed with the secretary of state within 10 days after the completion of the official abstract of votes cast. CRS 1-11-208

Local count deadline

Between 15 and 21 days after the election

Official county results must be certified by the 17th day after a general election and the 13th day after a primary election. CRS 1-10-101, 1-10-102. The results must be transmitted to the Secretary of State no later than the 18th day after a general election and the 13th day after a primary election. CRS 1-10-103.

Audit type

Manual

Touchscreens are audited by manually reviewing their paper trails. CRS 1-7-514.

The Secretary of State randomly selects at least 5% of voting devices in each county for the audit. CRS 1-7-514. If the audit uncovers a discrepancy, officials shall investigate it and remedy the problem.

Audit scope

5% of machines

The Secretary of State randomly selects at least 5% of voting devices in each county for the audit.   CRS 1-7-514.  If the audit uncovers a discrepancy, officials shall investigate it and remedy the problem.

Candidate-requested recounts

Upon request

Any candidate may obtain a recount upon request. CRS 1-10.5-106. The request must be filed within 24 days of the election (20 days for a primary).  Note that this is also the deadline by which the Secretary of State must total the county returns.  CRS 1-10-103.

Administrative Recounts

State officials may order

The Secretary may order a recount in a statewide race when deemed necessary. CRS 1-10.5-102. County officials may order a recount in any race that was limited to one county. CRS 1-10.5-103.

Automatic Recounts

Triggered at 0.5%

An automatic recount will occur whenever the margin of victory in any race is 0.5% or less. CRS 10.5-101.

Defintion of a vote

Concrete standard

Colorado law stipulates that ballots should be counted if it is possible to determine the elector’s choice of candidate. CRS 1-7-309, 1-7-508. Generally, any type of mark will count as long as it falls fully or partially within the target area. CO ADC 1505-1(27.7).

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots

Unclear

Colorado law states that unverified ballots should be reported and investigated, but provides no further guidance. §1-7-307. However, the law does not state what happens when this requirement is not followed. No cases were found addressing this issue.

Unverified ballots are often commingled with unproblematic ballots. Generally, Colorado courts will throw out the results of a precinct where unproblematic ballots have been commingled with ballots that are ineligible to be counted. Virgil v. Garcia, 87 P. 543, 546 (Colo., 1906). However, Colorado courts have not stated that unverified ballots are necessarily ineligible to be counted.

Colorado’s tough pleading rules for election contests might result in an unverified ballots case getting thrown out of court. Colorado requires that plaintiffs complaining of illegal votes identify the names of the illegal voters in the contest petition. §1-11-213; Abts v. Bd. of Ed. of School Dist. RE-1 Valley in Logan County, 622 P.2d 518, 522 (Colo., 1980). Failure of voters to sign in makes such identification impossible.

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes

Errors will disqualify ballots where they make it impossible to determine registration and eligibility

Colorado law explicitly states that where voters sign but do not “fill in all the information requested on the provisional ballot affidavit, the ballot shall be counted only if the designated election official is able to determine that the elector was eligible to vote in the precinct and county.” § 1-8.5-105. Electors are “eligible” where they have “complied with the registration provisions of the code and… reside within or…[are] eligible to vote in the jurisdiction of the political subdivision calling the election.” § 1-1-104. Thus, errors will disqualify ballots only where they prevent officials from being able to determine registration and eligibility.

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

State supreme court

The state supreme court will hear contests of Presidential general elections. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-11-204; C.R.C.P. Rule 100. Supreme Court justices are appointed by the Governor after being nominated by a nominating committee. See Colo. Const., Art. VI, § 20. Justices wishing to remain on the court after the expiration of their original term must stand for election on a simple yes/no ballot. See Colo. Const., Art. VI, § 25.

Contests of primaries for “state offices” will be heard by the state Supreme Court as well. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-11-203. It is unclear whether the office of President would be considered a state office within the meaning of the statute. A prior version of the statute specified that contests for national offices would be heard by the state Supreme Court, but that language was later removed. Anderson v. Kilmer, 134 Colo. 270, 274 (Colo., 1956). 

Who Performs Presidential recounts?

Bipartisan

The canvass board that certified the original result conducts the recount. 1-10.5-107. The canvass board consists of the "county clerk and recorder," and one or more individuals appointed by the two major political parties. 1-10-101. The canvass board may employ assistants and clerks as necessary for the conduct of the recount. 1-10.5-107.

The administrative code provides no additional details. 8 CO ADC 1505-1. Neither does the Secretary of State's website.

The county clerk and recorder is a partisan, elected official. 30-10-401. Each minor political party whose candidate is on the ballot and each unaffiliated candidate may designate one watcher to observe the work of the canvass board. 1-10-101; 8 CO ADC 1505-1 Rule 8.19. Properly certified members of the media may also observe. 8 CO ADC 1505-1 Rule 14.4.3.