Any candidate or issue that is to appear on a ballot must have paperwork filed with the County Clerk and Recorder or Secretary of State, depending on the office that is being sought. This includes a petition that must be signed by a certain number of eligible voters to qualify the candidate for participation in the election. Petitions may also be circulated to place special issues on the ballot.
All submitted signatures must be verified against the Colorado voter registration database (SCORE). If enough signatures are verified to qualify the candidate or issue for an election, the petition is deemed “sufficient” and the candidate/issue is referred to the ballot.
Critical election information is input into various software programs. First, the specifics of the election—including offices up for election, candidates for those offices, office boundaries, and eligible electors—are programmed into the SCORE system. This system is used by all Colorado counties to maintain a single list of Colorado’s registered voters as well as to assist in administering elections.
The Denver Elections Division then uploads the information contained in SCORE into software called EED (Election Event Designer), used to lay out the design of the ballot.
A file is exported from EED and imported into a ballot tallying software program called ICC, or Image Cast Central. This program is used to collect election results from each individual counting machine and produce a single cumulative tally.
The content of the ballot (which races appear and the order in which they appear) is dictated by federal, state, and local laws. In the City and County of Denver, all ballots must be produced in both English and Spanish.
Ballot design is the layout of the ballot content and is dependent upon the judgment of the local election office running the election. For enhanced clarity and simplicity, the Denver Elections Division uses best practices established at the national level by experts in ballot readability.
Proper ballot design also involves accurate data entry and proofing of the content. This process is highly complex because it involves data entry of multiple candidates and races on a large number of ballot faces.
Because there are 346 precincts in the City and County of Denver, there are 346 different ballot faces for a general election. For primary elections, each party has a different ballot face in each precinct. Thus, any precinct may have up to four ballot faces and the county as whole may have as many as 1,029 ballot faces. Each of these ballot faces must be accurately proofed before ballot production can begin.
In addition to the design of paper ballots, electronic ballots must also be designed, produced, and proofed to be used on electronic voting machines. Electronic voting machines also contain audio ballots that must be recorded onto the machines.
Prior to and after every election, the equipment used to record, tabulate, and report votes must be tested according to state laws and regulations.
The Hardware Diagnostic test is performed to verify that mechanical components of each electronic voting device are working correctly. After the successful completion of the test for each device, the devices are sealed. Documentation of the sealed information and all testing records for each device are maintained by the Denver Elections Division.
The Logic and Accuracy Test is a documented review of the Elections Division’s ability to produce accurate results of voter choices. It is performed by staff and an appointed testing board consisting of at least one representative from each major political party, and it is open to the public and media.
For this test, staff prepare a test deck of ballots that includes every ballot style and a voted position for every candidate on every race, including write-in candidates, overvotes, and undervotes. This deck is run through high speed ballot scanners, and results are compared to a hand tally. The test board signs a Public Logic and Accuracy Testing Certification document verifying that all required testing was completed in a satisfactory manner.
After Election Day, a post-election audit takes place when the Secretary of State randomly selects which election machinery is to be audited. The machinery selected includes five percent of the ballot marking devices and at least one of the high speed ballot scanners. A report is generated, and the ballots are hand-tallied and compared to the report.