In the runup to the 2022 elections — the primary will be held June 28 and the general election on Nov. 8 — the Indy will offer some facts about elections to dispel rumors and misconceptions that travel the internet and other informational channels.
Misconception: Votes cast in the names of deceased people are counted and can swing an election.
This is false.
Data obtained from a variety of organizations — like the Department of Revenue and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment — helps ensure that the voter registry is as accurate as possible. This includes address changes, party affiliation updates, newly registered voters and more.
Twice a month, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) sends a list of people whose death certificates have been generated. This data is used to update the voter registry, says Chuck Broerman, the El Paso County clerk and recorder.
If a Colorado resident dies outside the state, this information will come through the Social Security Administration. “It’s sent to the Secretary of State’s office, and they have to vet the information to make sure it’s the same name, same date of birth, same Social Security number, [etc.] and then that’s passed down to the county,” says Director of Elections Angie Leath. These individuals are then removed from the registry.
Voter fraud is rare, says Broerman. There might be an instance where a voter dies after their ballot is mailed out. But if someone attempts to cast the ballot, there are safeguards in place, like signature verification. If the signature does not match, the ballot is put on hold. That information is then turned over to the District Attorney’s Office.
So what do you do with a recently deceased person’s ballot? Instructions on the envelope let you indicate the recipient is deceased or no longer resides at the address. Check the appropriate box, write “Return to Sender” on the front and send it back in the USPS mail.
The checkmark doesn’t automatically cancel a person’s voter registration, but it will trigger the necessary steps to confirm that the person is, in fact, deceased — if this information hasn’t been obtained by the state already.
Indy readers are invited to submit their own questions about election procedures to email@example.com with “mythbusters” in the subject line.