The 2016 general election was Colorado’s first since the passage of COVAME, a law that significantly expanded voter access to the ballot. This was the first presidential election in which every voter automatically received a ballot in the mail and new voters could register to vote through Election Day. Voters are still getting used to the new law, and therefore had a slew of questions this voting season.
Luckily, Just Vote! Colorado Election Protection was here to help.
On November 7th and 8th 2016, Just Vote! Colorado Election Protection hosted a 12-line bilingual call center to answer voting-related questions from Coloradans across the state. Working in shifts, volunteers from the Colorado Lawyers Committee assisted over one thousand voters during these two days.
Common voter questions included how to register to vote, how to check the status of a mail ballot, and where voting sites (including drop boxes for mail ballots) were located. Many calls were from voters who had moved and needed to update their voter registration. Thanks to the new laws, Coloradans had more convenient options for both casting their ballots and voter registration.
There were some challenges. Boulder County had connectivity issues throughout the day, and voters reported long lines and being issued provisional ballots. Following a brief statewide voter registration system outage caused by a system overload, Colorado voters also called to report long lines at polling locations throughout the state, particularly Adams, Denver, Boulder, El Paso, and Arapahoe counties.
In total, call center volunteers received 750 phone calls between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day, and 350 on the Monday before the election. In addition to this, over 77,000 people visited the Just Vote! website to find answers to their voting questions.
In total, just over 2.8 million Coloradans cast ballots this year—the vast majority done via mail ballot. In 2014, 95 percent of voters cast their ballots by mail, while only 5 percent voted in person. In 2016 however, 7 percent (around 217,000 voters) turned out to vote in person—particularly on November 7th and 8th.
Just Vote! Colorado is a collaborative, non-partisan program dedicated to educating and assisting Colorado voters and monitoring election procedures around the state. Colorado Common Cause runs Just Vote! in partnership with Mi Familia Vota, Disability Law Colorado, the League of Women Voters of Colorado, and the Colorado Lawyers Committee. Just Vote! works in partnership with the national Election Protection coalition and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).
For more information, visit www.JustVoteColorado.org.
Office: Colorado Common Cause
Issues: Voting and Elections