Last week, Governor Jared Polis and a cadre of top Democrats, joined by Republican Mike Coffman, former U.S. Representative and now mayor of Aurora, held a press conference urging residents of the state to vote. But even as the politicos were rallying the troops, Westword was hearing reports of ballots being dumped across various sections of the city — and the Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office confirms that it's taking such claims very seriously.
We sent the Clerk and Recorder's Office information about several stories of ballot dumping, including two posted on a Nextdoor neighborhood site. Spokesperson Alton Dillard replied via email that the office had already heard from a voter via Twitter about what "appears to be an instance of mail theft. We are trying to get additional information from that voter, including if it's the same incident, so we can involve postal inspectors."
He added: "Mail theft is a felony."
The first person to contact Westword on this topic had found a Denver ballot on a sidewalk while taking a stroll through the Whittier neighborhood. Interested to discover if this was an isolated incident, he visited Nextdoor and stumbled upon a very concerning exchange.
One post was titled "Mail Found Including Ballots!" Accompanying a photo of several ballots along with other assorted envelopes was the following description: "I was walking my dog along 23rd and Franklin this morning and found voting ballots and mail scattered along several lawns. I will return to each owner, but please look out for your ballot and report if you don't get it!"
One person replied, "OMG, you're awesome for doing that," while another responded, "I would report it to the Secretary of State as well, so they know it is an issue."
Westword followed this last advice. A representative for the Colorado Secretary of State's Office told us no reports of ballot dumping had been received and encouraged us to contact the Denver Clerk and Recorder.
Meanwhile, a post from the City Park West neighborhood popped up with another photo of allegedly dumped ballots. The note underneath it stated: "My ballot + four neighbors found in an alley this morning. Six still missing."
Another response stood out, too. "Please spread the word," it began. "If you have not gotten your ballot by Saturday, October 17, go to GoVoteColorado.gov to check your registration info. If it is correct, call 311 to request a replacement."
Dillard underscores this tip. If residents fear their ballot has been stolen, he encourages them to alert the United States Postal Service. "Voters who need a replacement ballot can contact us at 311, option 8, by October 26 to have a replacement mailed or to make an appointment to pick up a curbside replacement," he notes.
As for the dumped ballots, he stresses, "We verify every signature on every ballot, so these ballots can’t be cast."
At the time Westword contacted Dillard, the Clerk and Recorder's Office had "gotten two reports of discarded ballots," he says, not counting the three we collected — further indication that these may not be isolated incidents.
And the Clerk and Recorder's Office is chasing down reports it does get, including another Nextdoor rumor of voter intimidation at the Hiawatha Davis rec center. Officials watched video from surveillance cameras at the site and saw no such action. "Debunked, untrue, and people are taking the bait," concludes Dillard.