COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Election Day is now just 8 days away and nearly 93,000 votes have already been cast in El Paso County alone.
This is the first presidential election in which Colorado voters are using an all mail-in ballot, something that raises questions when it comes to the security of the process.
The process starts with registered voters in El Paso County. Each person receives a ballot in the mail that ultimately makes its way back to the county office.
“They get that ballot in the mail, they vote it and they can either return it to our office through one of our drop boxes or through the United States Postal Service,” said Ryan Parsell, the chief deputy clerk and recorder for El Paso County.
Once the ballot reaches the county, the first step is signature verification.
“We validate that signature that the voter fixes on the back of the envelope with what we have on file and that’s crucial,” said Parsell.
If the ballot passes signature validation it then goes through a pre-processing stage.
“In a setting with bi-partisan judges, they will separate the secrecy sleeve in the ballot from the envelope and then the ballot from the secrecy sleeve which makes sure no judge will ever see how somebody in El Paso County voted,” said Parsell.
From there the ballot then heads to the tabulation room where it’s officially counted and recorded using machines not connected to the Internet — an important and vital security measure.
“We absolutely want to get it right,” said Parsell. “We want to make sure every vote is counted and counted accurately, that people that want to participate in the process have the opportunity to do so and that the process is protected from fraud and rigging.”
The culmination of votes is then updated into a computer where the results are broadcast. But if you’re wondering about the people handling your ballot, the county insists it’s in good hands.
“No one party controls the whole process and so we bring in election judges from both political parties that are appointed by the parties or that we may go and hire on our own to help make sure that everybody has representation in this process,” said Parsell.
With both presidential campaigns stirring up plenty of controversy, it’s an election year in which many voters are taking a special interest in.
“Americans, regardless of political party, race, anything like that, have something that they want to say during this election cycle and this is the mechanism to do it,” said Parsell.
If you want to return your ballot by mail, the county recommends doing so before November 2 as to account for the time it will take your ballot to reach the county office in time for it to count.
That being said, all votes must be in by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8 – and that includes drop box ballots. If you still need to register to vote, you have until 7 p.m. on Election Day to do so.