Colorado Mail Ballot, Initiative 28 (2002)

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The Colorado Mail Ballot Initiative, also known as Initiative 28, was on the November 5, 2002 in Colorado as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have required most elections held after January 1, 2005, to be conducted by mail ballot, allowed local election officials to determine the method of voting in elections that would not require mail ballots and required all mail ballots to be returned in a signed envelope either by mail, at drop-off sites, or at designated polling places on election day. It also would have added new security and other requirements for conducting elections by mail and for checking ballots before votes were counted and increased the penalties for mail-ballot election fraud and other offenses.[1]

Election results

Colorado Amendment 28 (2002)
Defeatedd No757,29957.59%
Yes 557,573 42.41%

Election results via: Colorado Secretary of State (P.144-155)

Text of measure

Ballot question

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the conduct of elections using mail-in ballots, and, in connection therewith, replacing existing statutory provisions relating to mail ballot elections with provisions governing "automatic absentee ballot elections;" requiring that, after January 1, 2005, any election held on the same day as any primary, general, congressional vacancy, special legislative, partisan officer recall, or other November coordinated election, be conducted as an automatic absentee ballot election; permitting other elections and elections held before January 1, 2005 to be conducted as automatic absentee ballot elections; requiring an election official who conducts an automatic absentee ballot election to submit a plan for the election to be approved by the secretary of state; specifying requirements for the delivery and return of ballots in an automatic absentee ballot election, including provisions for ballot drop-off sites, polling booth locations, and the issuance and return of replacement ballots; specifying requirements for ballot qualification in an automatic absentee ballot election, including the verification of voters' signatures and the counting of such ballots; specifying that interference with the delivery of a ballot in an automatic absentee ballot election to the designated election official is an election offense; and increasing penalties for specified election offenses?[2]


The following information was provided in a state Blue Book analysis of Amendment 28:[3]

Current law allows mail ballots to be used in some elections but not others. Mail ballots cannot be used in any election involving political party candidates, such as a primary, general, or congressional vacancy elections, or any election held on the same day as these elections. Mail ballots are allowed for any other election, such as school district, municipal, or ballot issue elections. Current law also allows voters in any election to vote by mail using an absentee ballot. This proposal expands the use of mail ballots to require that all elections, except certain local elections, be held by mail ballot.

Mail ballot elections under current law. Currently, when an election is conducted by mail, each active registered voter is sent a packet of election materials 15 to 25 days before election day. This packet contains a ballot, instructions for completing the ballot, an envelope to maintain secrecy, and a return envelope. A voter must complete the ballot, place it in the secrecy envelope, sign the return envelope, and send the packet back to the election official in the return envelope. A ballot must be received by an election official before 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. Before opening the packet, an election official checks that the signature on the envelope matches the printed name on the envelope. If the names match and the ballot is otherwise qualified, it is ready to be counted.

The Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing mail ballot elections, which are conducted by local election officials. Proposed changes for mail ballot elections. This proposal requires local election officials to develop new procedures for conducting mail ballot elections including updating voter registration rolls and ensuring ballot confidentiality and security. Beginning in 2005, the proposal requires election judges to compare the signature on the ballot envelope against the voter's signature on file with the election official. Signatures that do not match must be reviewed by two other election judges from different political parties. If an election law appears to have been violated, the judges are required to submit questionable signatures to the district attorney. The proposal increases the maximum fine for falsely submitting a ballot or unduly influencing a voter from $5,000 to $10,000.

Current law and polling booth voting. Current law requires that elections involving political party candidates be held at polling places in each precinct. The location of each polling place is designated by the election official. Polling places generally include schools, community centers, churches, and other public buildings. At the polling place, an individual's name must appear in the precinct polling book before he or she is escorted to a private voting booth to cast a secret ballot.

Proposed changes for polling booth voting. For elections involving political party candidates, the proposal requires election officials to maintain polling booth locations on Election Day at public high schools prior to 2010. Beginning in 2010, election officials must maintain at least one polling location on election day. Voters may use private voting booths at these locations to cast the ballot received in the mail or a replacement ballot. The proposal requires election judges to be present at each location. Ballots cast at polling places are enclosed in a secrecy envelope and a signed return envelope, just like ballots returned by mail or at a drop-off site.[2]


  • The Big Horn Center, funded by $1.3 million from Rutt Bridges, succeeded in putting a measure on the November, 2002 ballot making all Colorado elections mail in only, closing all neighborhood precincts. However, the measure was soundly defeated by Colorado voters.[4]

Peggy Lamm - Bighorn Action -

Bill Kaufman - Bighorn Action -[5]


Secretary of State, Mike Coffman


See also

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