Colorado Secretary of State: 828 ballots delivered late to Denver, Arapahoe County voters

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DENVER — Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said Friday that 828 replacement ballots that were not delivered to voters in Denver and Arapahoe counties until Election Day.

Replacement ballots are typically requested by the voter.

“[The United States Postal Service] did not notify our office of this issue, even though they were aware of the problem. Our state’s election model allows eligible Coloradans to vote in-person, and we are hopeful that all of these voters participated in the electoral process,” Griswold said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

Griswold’s office is working with the ballot vendor as well as the Denver and Arapahoe county clerks to determine which of the 828 voters did not vote.

“The USPS has failed to adequately deliver ballots, and as such, we are exploring regulatory and legislative options to prevent this from happening in the future,” Griswold said.

Officials say 768 of the 828 ballots were in Arapahoe County. Of those, 664 contained the Aurora mayoral race, which is currently within 273 votes. 

At Friday’s press conference, Griswold said new regulations may be needed to ensure a similar mistake does not reoccur.

“What I hate — what is so disappointing — is that someone may have had barriers to voting. We don’t want that in Colorado,” she said.

The USPS issued the following statement calling Griswold’s comments inaccurate:

“All ballots — including replacement ballots — are printed and mailed by an out-of-state vendor. Due to this process, it is not uncommon for the Postal Service to handle replacement ballots through the election period.

On Tuesday, Colorado letter carriers received 838 replacement ballots. Letter carriers then ensured the replacement ballots were delivered before the polls closed through special runs. We are proud of the work our employees displayed through the election process.

We continue to work with election officials to generate processes for last-minute, replacement ballot requests.”

Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul López also issued a statement Friday:

“We are extremely disappointed to learn that ballots that should have been mailed to voters remained at The United States Postal Service General Mail Facility until Election Day. It appears those ballots have Denver or Arapahoe County zip codes and were either not scanned by the USPS at all, not scanned for delivery or scanned for delivery on Election Day or the day after. Approximately 43 Denver voters may have been affected, but we have no way to confirm how many of those voters may have voted in person.

Our data scans show that our final batch of supplemental ballots were mailed in a timely fashion from our print vendor in Washington state because the scans showed 100% and voters that were in that supplemental batch returned ballots to us.

In the mail ballot delivery vote model, this is the reason we reach out to voters eight days before every election and remind them to call us or go to a Vote Center if they haven’t received their ballots.

We also let voters know if they plan to return ballots by mail, then they need to do so no later than eight days before the election. Voters can always opt to come in person and vote at a Vote Center.

As always, we are committed to ensuring that every vote counts and we take this matter very seriously.”

Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder Joan Lopez issued the following statement Friday night:

“In the 2019 election, the County saw a record-breaking turnout for an off-year contest, a coordinated election that had more than 42% voter participation, with nearly 60% of ballots being returned to us on Mon., Nov. 4 and Election Day, Tue., Nov. 5.

The Arapahoe County Elections Division is committed to the integrity of the elections process. It is always our goal to process ballots quickly and correctly, and we have complete confidence in our bipartisan elections staff. They are working diligently to complete the counting process and certify the election results by the state-mandated deadline.

As of Friday, November 8, we have processed all ballots received for the 2019 coordinated election, with the exception of ballots that are being held for signature cures and ballots that may still be in the mail from overseas and military voters. We will continue to work tirelessly until all ballots have been verified.

We recognize that there has been frustration with the time it has taken to process all the ballots. Once the 2019 election is complete, we will review our processes and procedures with all of the County’s relevant stakeholders. My staff and I are fully dedicated to conducting fair and transparent elections that ensure all Arapahoe County voices are heard, and we will continue honing and improving our operations as needed.”

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