Mail Ballot Election Process#
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 initially mailed to all active registered electors within the Fort Collins city limits who appear in the County's voter registration records as of 22 days prior to the election. A supplemental mailing will occur for anyone who registers between 21 and 8 days prior to the election.
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 elections. Unofficial voting results are not known until well after 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. The machines that scan the ballots store the votes, but do not display the results until all of the ballots have been scanned and reports are run.
New in 2019: For the first time, Fort Collins will use signature verification technology and manual processes to compare voter signatures on return ballot envelopes with signatures on file in the statewide voter registration system. It is anticipated that automated equipment will verify approximately 50% of the signatures. Those signatures not verified automatically will be sent to judges who will manually look up the voter signature in the statewide voter registration system. If a judge is still unable to verify the signature, it will be escalated to a two-person review team for final determination. A voter will receive notification if his or her signature is not verified and provided an opportunity to cure a missing or discrepant signature through the 8th day after the election.
Visit the Election FAQs page for additional information on mail ballot elections and elections in general.