ELECTIONS-06302020-KS-114

Election judges at the Denver Elections Division receive, prepare, and process ballots on June 30, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. There are fewer judges working in the normally filled rooms to maintain physical distancing, and voting stations are cleaned continuously as a precaution due to COVID-19.

Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill Friday to help ensure Coloradans get their mail-in ballots in time and, if they mess up their ballot or lose it, they can get another one expeditiously.

One of the few but chief complaints against Colorado's mail ballot elections is slow ballot handling in isolated cases.

House Bill 1313 requires county clerks to get replacement ballots in the mail quickly in eight to 15 days from an election. They now have to process new voter registration and changes that require a new ballot within two days, then get a ballot out within one business day. Replacement ballots also have to go out within a day.

Within 11 days of an election, ballots must be sent by first class mail to help ensure they get there.

Those who don't get their ballots could still vote in person, even before this bill.

Those responsible for handling ballots who fail to report issues in the process could get hit with a fine up to $1,000.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial and Sen. Nancy Todd of Aurora, both Democrats.

Todd said the proposal was vetted by the Secretary of State's Office and county clerks.

"One of the things we want to make sure of is that our elections are open and fair and they are accessible to all people," she told a Senate committee on May 28. "The fact that Colorado is ahead of the game on mail ballots, we want to make sure if there are any glitches that we're taking care of that, so it doesn't create a problem."

Reese Edwards, the director of government and public affairs for the Secretary of State's Office, said the bill would codify best practices for most counties.

"The closer you get up to an election, sending those ballots out, making sure they get to the Postal Service and to the voter on time becomes a more critical process," Edwards said.

Said Sullivan in a statement: “As the nation discusses whether or not to adopt vote by mail — a proven, safe and democratic system — Colorado is busy working to make our already effective process even better. This new law will make sure that all registered voters can cast a vote even when they have issues with their original ballots. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to make sure that health concerns don’t get in the way of any Coloradan’s constitutional right to vote.”

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