Yesterday, the city and county of Denver, CO held an election at which the incumbent mayor was re-elected and other city offices were decided. But the races on the ballot weren’t the only topic of interest; Denver Elections and its vendor Dominion Voting co-hosted a two-day event with attendees from across the nation to see first hand how Denver – and Colorado – are rethinking how voters receive and return ballots.
The system, which Denver’s Amber McReynolds calls “ballot delivery” but is also known nationally as the “Colorado model”, flips the traditional approach to bringing voters and ballots together. In a traditional system, voters have two choices: come to the ballot – at precincts, early voting stations or vote centers – and make their choices there; or have the ballot mailed to them and return it the same way.
As I’ve detailed on this blog, both approaches have challenges that election officials constantly seek to overcome; polling places may not be convenient or accessible to voters, and vote-by-mail can increase the risk of otherwise valid votes being rejected because they are late or have other problems like missing or invalid signatures.
The Colorado model takes parts of both approaches and incorporates them into a single, more flexible whole. There, every registered voter is mailed a ballot (hence the term “ballot delivery”) – but then they have a variety of choices for returning a cast ballot: by mail, in person at a vote center or at one of many drop boxes jurisdiction wide.