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Mail Ballot Election Process
General
The City of Fort Collins has conducted its regular elections (held in April of odd-numbered years) by mail ballot since 1995. In a mail ballot election, ballots are mailed to all active, registered electors within the Fort Collins city limits who appear in the County's voter registration records as of 29 days prior to the election. An elector is considered "active" if he or she:
  • cast a ballot in the last General Election (November of even-numbered years);
  • registered to vote since the last General Election; or
  • made an update (such as an address or name change) to their voter registration record.
Beginning with the April 2013 election, ballots are also mailed to inactive voters who missed the last General Election, but voted the General Election two years prior.

Casting a Ballot
There are no polling places in a mail ballot election other than an on-site polling place in the City Clerk's Office. Ballots must be mailed to the eligible electors no later than 15 days prior to the election. Ballots cannot be forwarded, so any elector who has moved and who did not change his or her address with the Larimer County Elections Office will not receive a ballot. The ballot will be returned to the City Clerk as undeliverable.

Ballots must be returned to the City Clerk by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. A postmark on Election Day does not count unless the ballot is physically in the hands of the City Clerk by 7:00 p.m. There are several ways to return your ballot.

Processing of Ballots
Every effort is made to ensure the secrecy of an individual's vote during the processing of ballots. Ballots are processed in an assembly line manner, so that by the time the ballot is unfolded for counting, all identifying information has been removed. No less than four people are required to process ballots as follows:

Step 1:    One person opens the envelope
Step 2:    One person removes the folded ballot from the envelope
Step 3:    One person removes the ballot stub from the (still folded) ballot
Step 4:    One person unfolds the ballot and prepares the ballot for counting

Steps 2 and 3 remove all identifying information from the ballot before the ballot is unfolded and votes are revealed. This assembly line processing enables 250 ballots to be processed in approximately 15 minutes.

Ballots are scanned using electronic equipment rented from an election vendor. It is the same equipment that the County uses in its polling place elections. Voting results are not known until after 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. The machines that scan the ballots store the votes on a memory card, but do not display the results until the data is transferred to tabulation software after all of the ballots have been scanned through the machines.

Visit the Election FAQs page for additional information on mail ballot elections and elections in general.