Oct 24, 2022 - News

5 election myths in Colorado and the truth, according to experts

Illustration of a hand placing a ballot in a box.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Colorado election officials are taking the offensive to battle misinformation in the 2022 midterm, opening phone lines to any and all questions and repeatedly debunking conspiracy theories online.

Threat level: The election doubts β€” mostly spread by election deniers and supporters of former President Trump β€” are proliferating and raising fears about disruptions ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

What they're saying: "I want to provide information so they have confidence in our process β€” because they should," Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O'Brien tells us.

  • But she adds: "It feels as much as you try to answer all those questions, you can't get to them all in a reasonable amount of time."

What to know: Colorado county clerks encourage anyone with questions to contact them. And in a recent briefing, they debunked the most popular misconceptions circulating online.

1. If you mismark your ballot, it ensures a hand-count. False.

  • Between the lines: The notion is spread by those who don't trust machines to count ballots, but it may backfire.

Reality check: Ballots that are "fouled" by random markings go to a bipartisan team of election judges to determine how the voter intended to fill in their ballot. But once decided, the ballot is counted through the same electronic tabulation equipment.

  • If election judges can't determine a voter's intent, the vote may not count at all.

2. Put an identifying mark on the ballot to verify it was counted correctly. It won't work.

Reality check: The idea that voters can check ballot images to verify their vote is a misnomer. Any identifying mark, such as a name or initials, would get redacted to protect a voter's anonymity.

3. Drop boxes for mail ballots are not safe. Not true.

Reality check: Ballot drop boxes are watched with 24-hour video surveillance and don't need additional monitoring. No evidence of ballot box tampering in Colorado has emerged in past elections.

  • Moreover, a new law bans the open carry of firearms within 100 feet of a drop box.

4. You can only return your ballot. Nope, but there are limits

Reality check: Colorado law allows voters to return their ballot and nine others, but no more. This typically applies to political groups that are working to turn out their supporters.

  • Of note: Pam Anderson, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, wants to reduce the number of ballots one person can return because she considers it a security liability.

5. Vote late on Election Day to avoid tampering. This is not based in fact.

Reality check: A misconception spreading online suggests voting after 3pm on Election Day is safer. But in reality it may only create longer lines and increase the time to know the election results.

  • Voting centers are open to in-person voting starting Oct. 24.
  • Election officials in at least 16 counties said they plan to stop counting by midnight Nov. 9 and resume in the morning. So any late deluge of ballots may mean we don't know the results as soon as we'd like.
  • Of note: If you are in line at a polling location at 7pm when polls close, you will still be allowed to vote.

Related: How to vote in Colorado: Answers to common questions


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