COLORADO — During this month's general election, even after you drop off or mail in your ballot, there are a few things that happen behind the scenes to make sure your vote is counted.
One of the most important is signature and ID verification by election judges. Each year there are discrepancies in signatures on ballots that cause them to be set aside until "cured", or verified, by the voter. This can happen if the signature on the back of your ballot envelope does not match the signature that officials have for you on file.
As of Monday afternoon, the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office said there had been over 2,000 ballots turned in so far with some kind of signature discrepancy. That is only about 1.4% of the total ballots received thus far, however, Wayne Williams, former Secretary of State said these votes matter in close elections. Williams also said the verification process takes place before the ballot is taken out of its envelope.
"If the signature appears not to match, it gets kicked up to a bipartisan team of election judges. So one Democrat, and one Republican. If the two of them agree the signature does not match, the voter is sent a letter," said Williams.
That letter notifies the voter that their ballot cannot be counted until further verification. That's where the TXT2Cure program comes in, letting voters virtually cure their ballot. The voter can text the word 'Colorado' to 2VOTE (28683) and click on the link they receive. They will be prompted to enter their voter ID number, affirm they returned a ballot for the election, sign an affidavit on their phone, and submit a photo of a form of identification.
Jena Griswold, Colorado Secretary of State, said the majority of voters will not have to go through this process. However, more young voters usually have discrepancies on their ballots compared to older voters.
"Every time you interact with the DMV, every time you vote, it's another signature in our signature database. But if you're younger, you may not have interacted with the DMV as much as someone in their 60s, 70s, or 80s. You haven't voted as much. So there's just less signatures to compare," Griswold said.
Both Griswold and Williams agree there is no need to worry that your ballot was sent back because of who you voted for.
"When those judges reviewed that signature, they do not know how the person voted, because the ballot envelope is never opened until the signature is a match, or the person verifies it is indeed their signature," said Williams.
County clerks must notify a voter within three days of discovering the discrepancy, but no later than two days after Election Day. Voters must complete the curing process before 11:59 p.m. on November 16th to ensure their ballot is counted.
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