Our Elections Process

In 2013, Colorado became an all-mail-ballot state. For every election since Adams County has mailed its citizens their ballots. Because of this, absentee ballots aren’t necessary.

In addition to the mailed ballots, we also offer Voter Service and Polling Centers  (VSPCs) where citizens can drop off or fill out their ballots.

Ballots can be mailed back to the county (just affix appropriate postage), dropped off at a 24-Hour Drop Box, or turned in at a Voter Service and Polling Center.

If you’re an Adams County citizen living temporarily or permanently overseas or active military personnel who is absent from Colorado (including spouses and voting-age dependants), you’re eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens and Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). Learn more about Military and Overseas Voting.

If you’re new to Colorado or have moved since the last election, you can update your voter registration information at GoVoteColorado.com.

The Elections Process and Ballot Processing

Logic and Accuracy Testing
About a month prior to an Election, the county hosts an appointee from the Democratic Party and an appointee from the Republican Party who test our voting equipment. The appointees are given ballots to fill out, and they are asked to log their choices on a separate document. We then run their ballots and a number of other test ballots through our scanning and adjudication processes.

All of the results are reviewed for accuracy and then signed off on by both appointees and the Elections Administrator.

Tracking Ballots for Voters
Our print vendor puts a unique code on the ballot envelope so our citizens can track their ballot packet throughout the entire process. Adams County voters can receive notifications as their ballots are printed, mailed, and received. This code is only present on the envelope, which means that voted ballots are anonymous.

Once our Elections Division receives a voted ballot—whether by mail, from a Voter Service and Polling Center (VSPC), or from a 24-Hour Drop Box—it goes through various checkpoints to ensure validity and anonymity.

Here’s the process a ballot goes through when it comes to our facility (see this process in our “Life of a Ballot” video):

Signature Verification
For a voted ballot to be accepted, the voter’s signature must be on the return envelope. This is how we verify that the voter is who they say they are. Each ballot is run through a machine called Agilis. The Agilis machine takes a picture of each signature and compares it to other signatures that are on file from that voter.

If signatures can’t be electronically matched, ballots go to signature verification for human review. First, is Tier 1, where an election judge, who’s been trained specifically to verify signatures, verifies the signature and compares it to the reference image in our voter database.

If, after that first review, that signature can’t be verified, it moves on to Tier II. This is where a bi-partisan team of election judges who’ve also been trained to verify signatures review it.

If both judges agree that the signatures were done by the same person, the ballot is counted. Voters with ballot signatures that can’t be verified are sent a cure letter and given an opportunity to send a copy of an ID and verify the signature is theirs. If the voter doesn’t return the form with ID, the ballot is not counted and the voter’s information is sent to the District Attorney for investigation.

Opex
Once the ballot signature has been verified, it’s then time to separate the ballot and secrecy sleeve from the return envelope.

Election judges use a machine that opens the return envelope and makes it easy to separate the voted ballot and secrecy sleeve from the return envelope. From this point on, the voted ballot is anonymous.

Ballot Removal
After the ballot and secrecy sleeve have been separated from the return envelope, it is then sent to ballot removal. Bi-partisan teams of judges remove the voted ballot from the secrecy sleeve and flatten the folds to help prepare it for the next step.

Ballot Scanning
After the ballots have been removed and flattened, they are sent through scanners that take images of the voted ballots and place those images on a secure server. The images are held there until the results are ready to be tabulated on Election Day.

Adjudication/Duplication
If a ballot won’t be able to go through a scanner (e.g. the ballot was torn, the voter used an ink other than blue or black), it’s sent to duplication. In this process, bi-partisan teams of judges electronically fill out the ballot as the voter did and prints a copy that can go through the scanners.

If a ballot goes through the scanner and there is a question about what the voter intended (e.g. the voter marked an “x” through a filled out oval and filled in another option), a bi-partisan team agrees on what the voter intended and submits it to the server for tabulation on Election Day.

Results
At 7 p.m. on Election Day, we are able to publish the initial results. Only a couple of people on the Elections Team have access to this portion of the process. Results are taken from a thumb drive, which can only be used once, and then imported onto a computer where the results can be uploaded onto the Election Night Reporting website. In this entire process, this final step uses the only computer that’s connected to the Internet, and it’s behind a locked door that a minimal number of people can access.

Risk-Limiting Audit
After an election takes place, every county performs a Risk-Limiting Audit. In this audit, we receive instructions from the Secretary of State’s office directing us to specific ballots to audit. They tell us which box numbers, tray numbers, and ballot numbers to review.

We’re proud to report that our team had a 100% match rate in the 2017 Coordinated Election and 2018 Primary Election Risk-Limiting Audits.

Voting Equipment
Throughout this entire process, our voting equipment is not connected to the Internet. The only step in the process where there is an Internet connection used is the final step of uploading results to the Election Night Reporting website.

Access to this computer is highly restricted and write-once media is used when transferring results.