Colorado Elections and How to Register
With elections coming up in Colorado many here at Poudre High are capable of voting. However many also are not registered to vote whether it be for a lack of understanding how to register, what is on the ballot or do not know that you can pre register to vote up to 2 years early.
To register to vote you have 3 options. Firstly you can register online at this website owned and run by the Colorado state government. Another option is to print out this PDF offered by the same Colorado state website and bring it to your local Voter Service Center, alternatively you can go straight to a Voter Service Center between the dates of the 4th and 8th of November and register to vote in person. Registering to vote after this is a simple process requiring only your legal name, date of birth, social security number, ID number, Address and mailing address. However even if you are under 18 years old do not worry! At the age of 16 and 17 it is possible to pre-register for voting by going through the same process and while you can not actually vote until you turn 18 there will be no need to register when you turn 18.
Many things are being voted on this year including propositions, elections for state officials and public positions and amendments to Colorado's constitution with some of the more notable votes being:
Amendment FF (STATUTORY)
Would increase tax for those whose annual income exceeds 300,000. The money would be used to increase the quality of food for students in public schools, increase pay of those who prepare meals for students and create a program in which parents and staff alike can make sure school meals are healthy.
Amendment E (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Would exempt the elderly, disabled veterans and spouses of deceased armed forces members who died in service or from a service related injury from property tax.
Proposition 121 (STATUTORY)
Would lower the income tax of Colorado citizens from 4.55% to 4.40%, lowering it by 15 cents per every dollar earned.
Proposition 123 (STATUTORY)
Increases statewide funding for additional affordable housing, however increases taxes by "one tenth of one percent" in federal income tax. 60% of the increase in this tax will be dedicated to building affordable housing while the rest of the 40% will be used to aid in affordable home ownership, assisting those suffering with homelessness and requiring local governments such as those of cities and counties.
Ballot Question 2C
Ballot question 2c would change the system of voting we have now in which you choose 1 option to vote for into a system where you choose your preference in vote by marking them 1 through 4 or so and the vote goes to your first choice unless it is guaranteed that it will not win.
Voting itself is a fairly simple process. After registering to vote you will receive a ballot in the mail with a list of everything being voted on compiled into one paper, instructions in the second paper and a return envelope where after signing your name you can return the ballot through a drop box at one of these Fort Collins area locations.
Lory Student Center Colorado State University.
Elks Lodge 1424 East Mulberry Street.
Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity Humanity ReStore 4001 S Taft Hill Rd.
Fort Collins Senior Center 1200 Raintree Dr.
Fort Collins Police Services 2221 S Timberline RD.
Fort Collins Traffic Operations 626 Linden St.
Harmony Library 4616 S Shields St.
Larimer County Admin services 200 W Oak St.
Larimer County Human Services 1501 Blue Spruce Dr.
Northside Aztlan Community Center 112 E Willow St.
South Transit Center 4915 Fossil Blvd.
Outside of the Fort Collins area there are also many other drop boxes such as Loveland Public Library, Loveland Police, Estes Park Municipal Building, Berthoud Community Library, Timnath Public Works Building and Wellington Public Library between October 27th and November 8th. If you require a replacement ballot due to losing it, it being destroyed or not receiving one Voter Service and Polling Centers can be found in Estes Valley, Colorado State University, Larimer County Admin Services, and Loveland Police & Courts opening from October 24th. Starting from November 4th eight more offices will be open and starting from November 7th Eight more offices will be opened.
The way ballots are counted is a lengthy and difficult process, the term used for counting ballots is “tabulation”. Every single ballot leaves a paper trail through its system of being counted starting at the drop box where one member of the republican party and one member of the democratic party will both unlock the box at the same time and collect the ballots, and sign a paper for what time and date the ballots were collected exactly. Next using your signature and a barcode located on the envelope of the ballot the county will verify the identity of the ballots, those whose barcode matches that of a voter who a ballot was issued to and a signature is found on the counties database such as drivers license or ID the Ballot will be separated into a pile of accepted ballots. A tray collects the invalid ballots and while the reasons could vary between false barcodes, false signatures or a damaged or missing return envelope, rejections do not occur often and a group of individuals who do not belong to a political party will check over the ballots to confirm the reason they were rejected. One signature verifier named Thomas Benton stated that “It can get kind of tedious and repetitive, but it’s important.” If your ballot happens to be invalid you will be emailed to do what is called a “cure process” where on your phone you can fix the issues found on the ballot and those who do not begin the cure process are investigated for fraud however this is a very uncommon process as less than .01% of ballots are fully rejected.
After the ballots are collected from verification they are stacked and tallied in 100’s before being placed on a locked cart and wheeled to a room in which they are to be scanned. The carts are unlocked in the tabulation room and scanned in machines that resemble the printer in a home office but are never connected to the internet and always tested before, after and at random during the ballot counting process. If a ballot can not be read it is copied onto another clean ballot and the process of the machine scanning it is redone all while the workers tabulating the results of the ballots are unable to see the total tallies the machine collects. After all this is done the Ballots are locked away for several weeks in preparation for an audit in which the US government will use 20 ten-sided dice to generate a code or “Seed” for which ballots will be audited to verify the results of the election with some counties such as Arapahoe even livestreaming the process online. The audited ballots are then taken and manually entered into software publicly available and if the audit matches up with the automated process the election can continue with little to no chance votes were falsely counted. During the audit discrepancies may be made where the audited papers don't match up with the scanned votes, usually this is human error and more ballots are grabbed and audited to make sure the amount of discrepancies is under the risk limit, if more than 3% of audits turn up discrepancies the whole process starts over.
For 25 months after the election counties hold onto the ballots in case the public demands to see them or a recount is required. Digital files are kept alongside physical copies of every ballot and their ballots are wrapped in cellophane and kept in facilities such as Littleton in Arapahoe county. Once this 25 months period is over the physical copies of every single ballot are destroyed as the county wishes such as shredding, however the physical copies of the ballots are kept forever in case a recount is required later on. Through this whole process a trail is kept through every single ballot and every single one marked and accounted for to make sure nothing slips through allowing ballots to be traced back to the very beginning of the process.
The key takeaway is this: everyone at Poudre High must stay informed, stay involved and check your facts. Those who are not registered to vote much register to vote and voting is how we as a community make the changes we want to see no matter what party we are involved with
Leian is a junior at Poudre High in his first year at the Poudre Press who runs a blog called History, Today
“How Votes Are Counted.” Citizens Clean Elections Commission, https://www.azcleanelections.gov/election-security/how-votes-are-counted. Accessed 30 October 2022.
“TXT2Cure FAQs.” Colorado Secretary of State, https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/FAQs/TXT2Cure.html. Accessed 30 October 2022.