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As the November 8 2022 election approaches, dates are important. Today, Monday, October 31, 2022, is the last day to submit a voter registration or change of address and still receive a ballot in the mail. After today, voters will need to appear in person at a Vote Center or Election Office to get a ballot. If a voter wishes to vote in person, they can visit a Vote Center.

Ballot Transport boxes used to move ballots from Buena Vista to Salida. Courtesy of Maddie Porter

Chaffee Returns Continues to Grow

On Sunday, Chaffee County received 257 mail ballots, for a total of 3,503 ballots returned to date.

Chaffee Clerk and Recorder Lori Mitchell reports that she has been asked multiple times by constituents over the weekend if Chaffee County has seen any drop-box watchers this election.

“The answer is no, not yet. But, Chaffee voters are concerned about this. Not cool,” she says. “I believe this ‘drop-box watching’ is obviously intended to intimidate voters.”

According to Mitchell, here in Colorado, drop-box watching actually makes no sense. “It doesn’t find fraud. Ballots are authenticated after they are dropped in the box. They are authenticated when they are processed at the election office, not by just being dropped in a box.”

The AgilisDuo Low-Volume Ballot Sorting System used in the Chaffee County Elections is the start of the multi-step process of readying ballots for the count. Courtesy of Maddie Porter

The process of authenticating and prepping the mail ballots is a careful one. Signature Verification and Ballot extraction began at the Courthouse at 1:00 p.m. today.

All mail ballots have to go through signature verification that it is coming from a registered voter whose signature is on record. It doesn’t matter how the ballot got there or who put it in the box. The authentication process for mail ballots is the same signature verification process that happens when a voter appears at a vote center.

Registered voters can vote only once and no more, whether the ballot arrives via the ballot being dropped off, or mailed, or the voter shows up in person.

Mitchell points out that “if someone tried to drop a bunch of ballots in the drop-box they would be caught.”

Here’s another fact: even within this county, not all our ballots are the same.

Why? Because some of us live in the rural areas, others in the city of Salida, or in the towns of Buena Vista or Poncha Springs. Some things being voted on are the same all across the county. Other ballot decisions are unique to a geographic or municipal area.

As Mitchell commented “We have 13 different ballot styles for this election. How would the counterfeiters know which ballots to fake?”