Election 2020: If You're Mailing That Mail-In Ballot, Today's the Day

Planning to return your Colorado ballot by mail?

According to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, today, October 26, is the last day that you should use the U.S. Postal Service, if you want to make sure that your ballot arrives in time to be counted. (Colorado elections require that a ballot be received by 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 3 — a postmark before that time does not count if your ballot does not arrive by deadline.) This is also the last day to register to vote or update your registration and still receive a ballot in the mail.

Remember, although Colorado has had mail-in elections since 2014, that simply means that ballots arrive by mail. You do not need to return them that way; you can use an election drop box or a vote center. You can also vote in person, and even register to vote, up to 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 3, at a Colorado vote center (but if you're registering to vote, we recommend you do that a little sooner).

This round of questions involves using the U.S. Postal Service, and the answers are from that agency's fact sheets.

Q. How much postage do I need to put on my ballot?

A. Completed ballots are first-class mail, regardless of whether they are prepaid by election officials or mailed with a stamp affixed by the voter. The only situation where completed ballots are not first-class mail is when the voter opts instead to pay for a premium service like Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express.

To help voters, the Postal Service requires election officials to inform voters of the amount of first-class postage required to return their ballots, if the voter decides to return their completed ballot by mail. Not only does federal law require proper postage, but it also helps ensure timely processing and delivery by the Postal Service.

Q. What if I forget to put on postage?

If a return ballot is entered into the mail stream with insufficient or unpaid postage, it is the Postal Service’s policy not to delay the delivery of completed absentee balloting materials, including mail-in ballots. In cases where a ballot enters the mail stream without the proper amount of postage, the Postal Service will deliver the ballot and thereafter attempt to collect postage from the appropriate Board of Elections.

Q. Will my ballot be postmarked?

The Postal Service’s policy is to postmark all ballots mailed by voters, whether they are prepaid by election officials or mailed with a stamp affixed by the voter. Be sure to check collection times posted on collection boxes and at Post Office locations and retail facilities. Also be mindful of when mail is delivered and picked up at your residential mailbox. Ballots deposited after the collection time won’t be picked up, or postmarked, until the following business day. Voters should also be aware of mail collection times and practices if ballots are deposited in an office or residential mailroom.

In other words, get a move on if you want to return your ballot through the U.S. mail. (And no matter how you return it, consider signing up for BallotTrax — or BallotTrace in Denver — so that you know it's received...and counted.)