The Clerk’s Corner: What happens Election Day
For today’s episode of “How Stuff Works,” I’m going to tell you what happens to your ballot after you return it to the county clerk’s office. Even if you’ve never wondered about the inner workings of our office, I’m happy to have the opportunity to inform you anyway.
To begin with, all mail ballots are collected daily by our staff, then updated into the system. Each ballot is then processed by a bipartisan team of election judges.
Following are the steps involved in the processing your ballots.
• As ballots are collected, they are scanned into our voter registration system to track which voters have returned their ballots. Then, they are put into batches of 25.
• These batches are then sent to judges for signature verification. Election judges compare the signature on each mail ballot envelope to the signature we have captured in the election database. If the signature matches, the ballot moves forward to the mail ballot team, which then separates the ballot from the envelope.
• If there is a discrepancy in the signature or a missing signature, the ballot is rejected, and the voter is sent notification to verify or obtain a signature. If we don’t receive any information from the voter, the ballot remains rejected and is not counted. We are then required by law to turn that information over to the district attorneys for investigation of possible fraud.
• As the ballot moves forward in the process, the mail ballot judges disassemble the envelope and process the ballots in an assembly line format. The first judge will open the envelope, with the address label face down, and pass the contents of the envelope to judge number two. The empty envelopes are sorted into trays by precinct and last name. Judge number two removes the ballot from the secrecy sleeve and flattens the ballot, then passing it on to judge number three. Judge number three examines the ballot for tears or obvious flaws. If the ballot is damaged, it is separated from the other ballots and sent to a team of “resolution judges” who will duplicate the ballot so it can be counted. Ballots are then shuffled, to help protect voters’ anonymity. The ballots are again sorted into batches of 25 and sent on to the counting room.
• In the counting room, the “machine judge” will then number each batch of ballots from 1 to 25 and send them through the ICC Scanner for pre-tabulation. At the end of each batch, the judges compare the totals that were given by the clerk and recorder to the number of ballots that were actually processed. The ballots are then stored in sealed manila envelopes within ballot boxes.
• All ballots boxes and equipment are locked with secured number seals and placed in the Election “War Room” for security reasons.
• If there are qualified write-in candidates, the resolution judges will review those selections and resolve those votes during the tally process on Election Night.
• The tabulated results from the scanned ballot images are not downloaded until after 7 p.m. on a given Election Night.
As this election draws near, it is pertinent to remind voters that our system is one of the best in the world. Colorado election officials work hard to ensure transparency and integrity in the voting process. Voter fraud, at least on a large scale, is especially difficult, since there are so many safeguards in place during the processing of each ballot. Any occurrence of voter fraud is taken very seriously and is immediately investigated before being referred to the district attorney for prosecution.
Until next month … cheers!
Lila Herod is Moffat County clerk and recorder.