"Can I Vote From Space?" and Other Questions Colorado Voters Are Dying to Ask

When it comes to Colorado elections, there's no such thing as a dumb question. After all, with all their deadlines and requirements, elections can be confusing, especially for first-time voters.

But what about for less traditional voting blocs, like astronauts? We asked all the questions you've pondered, and maybe some you haven't, and the Denver Elections Division's Alton Dillard helped us with answers.

I sent in my mail-in ballot yesterday but died today. Will my vote count?

Some refer to this as "ghosting." Okay, no one actually calls it that, but they should now. And, yes, your vote counts.

I'm still alive and I live in Antarctica. Is it possible for me to vote?

Yes, for sure. If you are registered in Colorado and live abroad, you should have gotten a ballot 45 days before the election, giving you plenty of time to send it back. There's even an eight-day grace period after election day for overseas voters, in which your ballot will still be counted if it is received during that time.

I'm in jail. Can I vote?

Individuals registered in Colorado can vote no matter what, except if he or she is currently serving time for a felony conviction or out of jail but on parole. However, felons who have done their time and are no longer on parole can vote. Those in jail for misdemeanor charges can vote, too.

What if I get locked up abroad?

If you end up getting thrown in jail while in Turkey for trying to smuggle hashish out of the country, your guess is as good as ours on whether or not you can vote. Denver Elections Division wasn't able to comment on these circumstances. This is not legal advice, but if you absolutely must smuggle hashish out of Turkey, try to do it after November 6.

I'm an astronaut and registered to vote in Colorado, but I'm currently aboard the International Space Station and will be here for a few more months. How can I vote?

It's always a pleasure knowing that astronauts are reading Westword from space. You should have already received an e-mail with a password-protected link that takes you to your ballot PDF. Fill out the PDF and send it back and an electoral clerk will enter in the ballot on your behalf. And there's no need to worry about privacy. Only you and the clerk will know which way you voted.

I accidentally put my ballot in a ballot box in Denver, but I actually live in Arapahoe County! Will my vote still count? Am I still carrying out my civic duty?

Yes and yes. No matter where you submit your ballot across the state, your vote will count. Election divisions across Colorado transfer ballots from the county in which it's dropped off to the one in which the voter is registered. So no need to worry: You're still carrying out your civic duty.

My signature has changed as I've aged. Will ballot counters be able to notice it's still me, or will they think I'm a fraud?

You shouldn't worry about this. Election judges receive training from a forensic handwriting analyst and compare your ballot's signature with any pre-existing signatures in their database. That means they can see the evolution of your signature over time and figure out if it's actually you who signed. If debate over a signature cannot be resolved by election judges, the decision goes to higher-ups. If they cannot make the call, they will reach out directly to you, either through the online ballot trace service or with a letter.

What happens if I don't like signing things and either don't do it or get my sibling to do it for me?

If election judges receive a ballot without a signature, they will reach back out to you. If you don't respond, your vote won't count, and it ends there. If election judges receive a ballot and there is a signature discrepancy they cannot solve themselves, they will also reach out to you. But if you don't respond in this case, the discrepancy will be referred to the local district attorney's office.

When there is a signature discrepancy, the vast majority of the time it's because someone's sibling or spouse mixed up ballots and accidentally signed the wrong one, according to the Denver Elections Division. You shouldn't do this. It's not allowed. Just take a deep breath and overcome your fear of signing.

What happens if there's a big red line on some of my ballot forms and I am told I need to send in a photocopy of my ID? Has my identity been stolen?

No, your identity hasn't been stolen. Well, maybe it has been stolen, but that's totally unrelated to that big red line. That notice just means that when you registered to vote, you didn't have the necessary identification on you at the time. Luckily, you can simply send in a photocopy of your Colorado ID or passport when you mail back or submit your ballot, and your vote will still count.

I don't know what a ballot box looks like. Can I just submit my ballot to any box on the street and hope my vote winds up being counted?

Back when Netflix was still sending DVDs by mail, some Coloradans used to accidentally return their DVDs to ballot boxes. This might make sense in California, where movie stars run for governor. But, in Colorado, where we don't mix our action movies with politicians? Not so much. Oh, and don't mistake our boxes on the street for a mailbox. Here's a map of ballot boxes across Denver where you can drop off your ballot.

There is a little rip on the corner of my ballot envelope. Is my ballot still secure or has the Russian government tampered with it?

Stay calm. It's highly unlikely that the Russian government is spending resources on ripping corners of ballot envelopes. That being said, better safe than sorry. Just reach out to your local elections division and describe the issue. Sometimes your ballot is perfectly fine the way it is. Other times, you might need to get a new ballot. Either way, you can still vote.

Okay, maybe the Russians didn't mess with my ballot. When will I know the results?

Depends. Tight election results could take until Thanksgiving to go public. The election only stops when the voting judges say it stops. Wait until the results are certified before hosting any victory parties.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.