Colorado’s universal mail-in ballot system is legal, secure

CLAIM: Colorado’s practice of sending mail-in ballots to every registered voter is unconstitutional and voters should only vote in person on Election Day.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Colorado state law explicitly protects mail-in voting and the U.S. Constitution gives states broad authority to run their elections, according to legal experts. Colorado’s mail-in voting system has been praised by experts as safe and secure, The Associated Press previously reported.

THE FACTS: With the midterm elections just weeks away, some social media users are sharing misleading information about Colorado’s mail-in voting system to push the baseless conspiracy that Democrats will use early voting returns to rig results in their favor.

One Instagram user posted a picture of a ballot that features the label of the Douglas County clerk and recorder and wrote, “So when you get this…mailed unconstitutionally to every Colorado voter whether they requested one or not, ignore the instructions to vote early. Vote in person, on Election Day.” The user added that voting early “just let’s them know how many votes they need to manufacture.”

But there’s nothing unconstitutional about the process. In 2013, Colorado adopted legislation requiring that mail-in ballots be sent to all eligible voters. And the Constitution gives state legislatures control over election administration, though Congress can amend regulations for federal elections, experts say.

“There’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that speaks to mail-in balloting. And therefore there’s nothing that prohibits the practice,” said Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “I don’t believe there is a serious argument to be made that sending ballots to these voters is a violation of the United States Constitution.”

Doug Spencer, an associate professor of law at the University of Colorado Boulder, agreed that Colorado’s mail-in voting system is “not actually unconstitutional” under the law.

Annie Orloff, a spokesperson for the Colorado secretary of state, wrote in an email to the AP that there has “never been a legitimate or successful lawsuit challenging the constitutionality” of the state’s mail-in voting law. It was instituted in 2013.

Local and national experts and election judges agree that Colorado’s mail-in voting system is safe, the AP reported. Bipartisan teams transport, verify, open, sort, count and store Colorado’s ballots in secure rooms with windows through which anyone can watch. Election judges and computers check each vote and signature against state registries before the ballots are tabulated and stashed by the hundreds in cardboard boxes, numbered and dated.

Eligible voters receive their ballots about three weeks before a given election in Colorado. They can cast their votes and return the ballots by mail up to eight days before Election Day or they can submit them into a drop box or clerk’s office until 7 p.m. that night.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.