In the 2016 election, 24,189 Colorado voters cast ballots that did not count.
It’s a small fraction of the 2.7 million votes tallied — 0.9% — but still a notable sum in a state that bills itself as one of the easiest places to vote.
The most alarming number: nine out of every 10 ballots rejected could have counted if the voter fixed the mistake — what’s known as curing a ballot.
A Colorado Sun analysis of data on rejected ballots from the 2016 election — the first presidential election with a mail ballot system — found that 67% of those ballots didn’t count because of a signature discrepancy. Another 11% of ballots rejected lacked a signature. The 2018 election found similar rates.
The county clerks who run elections are required to notify voters about such mistakes and give them an opportunity to correct it, but many voters don’t take the extra step. This year, voters can fix ballot mistakes via text message under an existing program expanded statewide by the Secretary of State’s Office.
The remaining portion of rejected ballots cannot be corrected. In the vast majority of those cases — 77% — the ballot arrived after 7 p.m. on Election Day. More than 2,000 ballots in 2016 were rejected for this reason, the Sun analysis found.
Here are six graphics that help explain why ballots are rejected and which voters are most affected.