Imagine if BallotTrax had existed in its current form in the 2018 mid-term election.
The 579 disenfranchised Mesa County voters may have had some clue that their ballots had gone uncollected or uncounted — presumably in time for corrective action.
Those overlooked ballots could have been recovered from the drop box in time to be processed and Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters could have sidestepped an embarrassing oversight.
Peters vowed that such a problem would never be repeated. A new statewide ballot-tracking initiative from the Colorado secretary of state’s office — Colorado BallotTrax — should help Peters keep her word.
“For the first time, every Colorado voter will have access to ballot tracking, to be able to see when ballots are sent and when they are processed,” Secretary of State Jena Griswold said Monday. “This new program is one of the many ways that Colorado continually innovates to ensure our elections are the best in the nation.”
As the Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reported in Tuesday’s paper, Colorado voters already have the ability to find out the status of their ballots once they receive them in the mail, but now they can get automatic status updates by phone, email or text message.
Coloradans who already have provided an email address when they registered to vote will automatically be enrolled, but they can opt out, or change how they are notified. The service also allows voters to choose what times of day they receive those notifications. Voters can sign up, opt out or change how they are notified by logging onto colorado.ballottrax.net.
Denver launched the state’s first ballot notification system in 2009. Since then, 12 other counties have adopted similar systems. Those 12 counties are already using the software that will now be expanded statewide.
Mail ballots are under intense scrutiny nationwide, mainly because President Donald Trump has attacked them as insecure. Even though Colorado has been using mail ballots since 2013 with no problem, we think it’s a good idea to deliver a tool that can boost voters’ confidence in the system.
In the same vein, Griswold filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service for a mailer it sent out about mail-in ballots. In the lawsuit, Griswold said the mailer may be accurate in other states, but not in Colorado.
“The mailer incorrectly asks that voters request a mail ballot 15 days before the election and return their ballots by mail at least seven days before the election,” Griswold said. “In Colorado, every registered voter is sent a ballot without having to make a request and voters are urged to return ballots by mail sooner than seven days.”
Under Colorado election laws, voters still can vote in person if they choose, and there are other options for returning them, including using drop-off boxes or bringing them into vote centers or county clerks’ offices, Griswold said, adding that the Postal Service flier implies that returning ballots by mail is the only option.
We’re lucky to be way ahead of the curve on mail balloting at a time when other states are rushing to devise a similar system to contend with COVID-19 concerns. Even so, the state is wise to keep refining mail balloting and finding new ways to buttress election integrity.
Amazon and FedEx have created an expectation that we should know how things move through delivery systems. Ballots shouldn’t be any different. When the world calls for a certain capability, government should be able to deliver. It’s nice to be a resident of Colorado, where misinformation about mail-in ballots is just that — misinformed.