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Colorado’s constitution says elections must be conducted by ballot, but it does not specifically address voting by mail.
In Colorado, election officials mail ballots to every registered, active voter in the weeks leading up to an election. State law dictates procedures for voting by mail.
Voting by mail is secure and has been used in Colorado for years; it is not unconstitutional, experts said.
With Election Day nearing, the get-out-the vote effort is visible on social media, TV, radio and elsewhere. But some messages encouraging voter participation are also spreading misleading claims about mail-in voting.
One such Instagram post showed a picture of a mail ballot from the Douglas County Clerk and Recorder in Castle Rock, Colorado.
"So when you get this … mailed unconstitutionally to every Colorado voter whether they requested one or not, ignore the instructions to vote early," the Oct. 22 post said. "Vote in person, on Election Day, after reading the blue book to familiarize yourself with the issues."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
That’s because Colorado’s long-standing election procedures include sending mail ballot packets to every eligible voter — but that practice does not violate the state constitution.
Colorado’s constitution does not specifically address mail ballots or in-person voting. But Article VII, Section 8 says that all elections "shall be by ballot, and in case paper ballots are required to be used, no ballots shall be marked in any way whereby the ballot can be identified as the ballot of the person casting it."
Colorado Revised Statutes dictate mail voting procedures in detail:
For general, primary, odd-year, coordinated, recall and congressional vacancy elections, C.R.S. 1-7.5-104 says "the county clerk and recorder shall conduct the election by mail ballot" under the secretary of state’s supervision and in accordance with state rules.
To conduct a mail ballot election, C.R.S. 1-7.5-107 stipulates that designated election officials must send a mail ballot packet "to each active registered elector, at the last mailing address appearing in the registration records." The ballot must be sent no more than 22 days before Election Day, but no fewer than 18 days before.
About 98% of voters from all affiliations chose to vote by mail ballot in the last few elections, including the 2022 primary, said Annie Orloff, a spokesperson for the Colorado secretary of state. The state provides an automated way for voters to track their ballots from the time they are sent until they are accepted.
Some Republicans have instructed voters to vote only in person at their polling place on Election Day, or to hold onto the ballots they’ve been mailed and drop them off in person on Election Day, rather than vote by mail.
United States Postal Service delivery vehicles drive in downtown Denver, June 1, 2022. In July 2022, officials said the USPS was creating a division to handle election mail issues as part of an effort to ensure swift and secure delivery of ballots for the 2022 midterm election. (AP)
All voters must sign their names on their ballot and county officials use software and bipartisan election judge teams to compare signatures on ballots with signatures on state records, Colorado Public Radio reported. If signatures don’t match, county officials will text voters to verify their ballot signatures.
"If a voter doesn’t respond, the county will then refer the ballot to the local District Attorney’s office for investigation," the radio station reported. "State records show fewer than 0.01% of ballots in elections are investigated for fraudulent signatures, though."
In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many states to try to run a presidential election largely by mail for the first time, many experts pointed to Colorado as a model for how such an election can work securely.
Elena Nunez, the director of state operations and ballot measure strategies at Common Cause, said Colorado voters can choose to vote in a variety of ways, including returning their mail ballots by mail or to a drop box. Alternatively, people can go to a Vote Center from Oct. 24 until Election Day to cast their ballots.
An Instagram post said that ballots are "mailed unconstitutionally" to every voter in Colorado.
Colorado’s constitution says elections must be conducted by ballot, but it does not specifically address voting by mail. State law dictates procedures for voting by mail. The practice is secure and has been used in Colorado for years. It has not been found to be unconstitutional.
We rate this claim False.
PolitiFact staff writer Amy Sherman and researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
Instagram post, Oct. 22, 2022
Email interview with Elena Nunez, director of state operations and ballot measure strategies at Common Cause, Oct. 24, 2022
Email interview with Annie Orloff, spokesperson for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, Oct. 24, 2022
Associated Press, GOP voters told to hold onto mail ballots until Election Day, Oct. 22, 2022
The Fulcrum, How Colorado became the model for running an election by mail, Oct. 20, 2022
Colorado Ssecretary of Sstate, Mail-in ballots FAQs, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
FindLaw, Colorado Constitution of 1876 Art. VII, § 8. Elections by ballot or voting machine, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
Ballotpedia, Article VII, Colorado Constitution, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
Vail Daily, Texts to Eagle County residents encourage people to vote in person on Election Day, Oct. 18, 2022
Colorado Constitution, Article VII Section 8. Elections by ballot or voting machine, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
Colorado General Assembly, House Bill 13-1303, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
Colorado Revised Statutes, C.R.S. 1-7.5-107, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
National Conference of State Legislatures, Table 18: States with all-mail elections, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
Chalkbeat Colorado, Everything you need to know about voting in Colorado’s 2022 elections, Oct. 19, 2022
Colorado Revised Statutes, C.R.S. 1-7.5-104, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
Colorado Revised Statutes, C.R.S. 1-7.5-107, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
The Coloradoan, After 7 years of voting by mail, Colorado voters aren't taken in by absentee ballot drama, Oct. 1, 2020
Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, Shall, accessed Oct. 24, 2022
PolitiFact, Voting by mail has been popular in Arizona for decades. Now the state GOP wants to ban it, March 17, 2022
CPR News, Everything you need to know about voting, election security and ballot counting in Colorado, Oct. 17, 2022
The Associated Press, Colorado’s universal mail-in ballot system is legal, secure, Oct. 25, 2022
The Associated Press, Colorado election officials tout safety of voting by mail, Aug. 22, 2020
Colorado Secretary of State, Go vote Colorado, accessed Oct. 25, 2022
Colorado Politics, Early in-person voting begins in Colorado, Oct. 24, 2022
CPR, Wait, how do I…? A giant FAQ to voting in Colorado, Oct. 17, 2022
Email interview with Douglas M. Spencer, an associate dean for faculty affairs and research and an associate professor of law at the University of Colorado, Oct. 25, 2022
CPR, FAQ: We answered your questions about election security in Colorado, Oct. 17, 2022
The Gazette, Recall ruling appealed to Colorado Supreme Court, Aug. 14, 2013
The Pueblo Chieftain, Recall appeal dies on tie vote, Aug. 16, 2013
FOX - 31 KDVR, Colo. Supreme Court won't hear appeal on recall mail ballots, Aug. 15, 2013
Legislative Council Staff, Memorandum: Recalls and vacancies, Jan. 2, 2020
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