COLORADO SPRINGS — El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman joined County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf Thursday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate a new secure ballot dropbox in the Southgate Shopping Center. The county installed 19 additional boxes during the past year bring the total number of secure locations where voters can return their ballots without needing a stamp to 37.
"Ninety-two percent of our citizens in El Paso County are within five minutes of a dropbox, we make it extremely easy," Broerman said.
This location is the first to make use of a photovoltaic solar panel to provide electricity to a light and security camera.
"That's not only to ensure the security of the ballot itself but also to ensure the security of the people that come here and drop their ballot off," Commissioner VanderWerf said.
One of the key features of keep elections safe in Colorado comes when voters sign the back of the return envelope. Counties rely on signature verification to ensure the validity of individual ballots.
Most voters remember to sign them, but forgetting to sign the ballot is one of the more common reasons that ballots are rejected when they're received for processing and counting.
"99.94 some percent of people's signatures are accepted," Broerman said. "It's just a very small couple tenths that need some extra determination."
When ballots arrive at the county clerks office, they're fed into machines that use optical readers to rapidly compare the signatures on the envelope with images of voter signatures kept on file.
Broerman explained that there are multiple sources to find a comparison signature.
"From your initial time that you register to vote to any time that you have visited the department of motor vehicles and got a driver's license, or any time you vote," he said.
Ballots rejected by the machine are then hand-reviewed by an election judge. That individual can always get a second opinion by referring the ballot to a bi-partisan team of election judges.
"They determine yes or no," Broerman said. "If it's yes, it's forwarded on to be tabulated. If it's no, then we generate a cure letter and we send that to you saying, hey, your signature is missing or there appears a be a bit of a mismatch."
Voters have until 8 days after Election Day to cure their ballot. There are multiple options available to voters to cure their ballot. They can respond to the letter by mail, send a fax or an email reply, or use a smartphone app to cure their ballot by text message.
The app is called TXT2Cure. Voters who are notified of the need to cure a ballot can simply send the word "Colorado" as a text message to 28683 (2VOTE). They will receive a reply with a secure browser link to resolve the issue.