Happy FAQ Friday! We get a lot of questions around election time (check out our video FAQ section at VoteJeffco.com!) but here's one we don't yet have a video for: Why are some ballots and envelopes different colors?
Answer: Because it's primary time! By state law, unaffiliated voters are allowed to vote in primaries, but they can only vote in one party's primary, and the law requires us to note which primary they choose. That takes a lot of work on the back end, and the color coding helps simplify the process for our election workers. Here's how:
*Democratic and Republican voters receive an orange envelope
*Unaffiliated voters receive a green envelope
*Democratic ballots have a blue stripe
*Republican ballots have a red stripe
When anyone returns a ballot, the first thing our bipartisan judges do is verify that the signature on the ballot envelope matches the signature on file. If it doesn't, we won't even open the envelope. If it does, we send that envelope off to ballot opening.
If the envelope is orange, we know that person is registered with a party, so a small bi-partisan team of judges opens the envelope. If the envelope is green, we know that's an unaffiliated voter, so the ballot is sent to a larger team of bipartisan judges who double check that there is only one ballot in the envelope, and then notate whether that ballot has a blue or red stripe so they can mark – as state law requires – which primary the voter participated in. The judges then place the ballot face down to ensure voter anonymity, and all ballots are combined for counting.
Side note: We also have black envelopes for military and overseas voters. Those voters have additional time for their ballots to be returned to us, so the black envelope helps us identify them.
As a reminder, every part of ballot processing is performed by bipartisan judges, is on 24/7 surveillance, and is observable by election watchers from both parties. We also conduct regular election tours for the public during elections. Additionally, anyone who wants to verify that their ballot has been received and counted can sign up for email, text, or phone alerts on the status of their ballot by visiting VoteJeffco.com.