1-7-508. Determination of improperly marked ballots
Overview of Statute
If electronic vote-counting equipment cannot read a damaged or defective ballot, a clearly labeled duplicate copy must be made in the presence of two witnesses who will also assign a serial number to the new ballot. Votes cast for an improper number of candidates or positions, as well as ballots in which a voter’s intent cannot be determined, will not be counted. However, ballots with incomplete marks in the proper place will suffice so long as marks do not indicate an intention to vote for other candidates or ballot positions as well. In order to be counted, ballots must also possess an official endorsement. Ballots not counted will be designated “defective” and set aside.
 C.R.S. § 1-5-407(1).
 C.R.S. § 1-7-801: procedure for preserving ballots.
(1) If any ballot is damaged or defective so that it cannot properly be counted by the electronic vote-counting equipment, a true duplicate copy shall be made of the damaged ballot in the presence of two witnesses. The duplicate ballot shall be substituted for the damaged ballot. Every duplicate ballot shall be clearly labeled as such and shall bear a serial number which shall be recorded on the damaged ballot.
(2) Votes cast for an office to be filled or a ballot question or ballot issue to be decided shall not be counted if a voter marks more names than there are persons to be elected to an office or if for any reason it is impossible to determine the elector’s choice of candidate or vote concerning the ballot question or ballot issue. A defective or an incomplete mark on any ballot in a proper place shall be counted if no other mark is on the ballot indicating an intention to vote for some other candidate or ballot question or ballot issue.
(3) No ballot shall be counted unless it has the official endorsement required by section 1-5-407 (1).
(4) Ballots not counted because of the election judges’ inability to determine the elector’s intent for all candidates and ballot issues shall be marked “defective” on the back, banded together, separated from the other ballots, and preserved by the designated election official pursuant to section 1-7-801.
Source: L. 92: Entire article R&RE, p. 749, § 9, effective January 1, 1993.L. 2004: (2) amended, pp. 1359, 1213, § § 22, 108, effective January 1, 2006.L. 2012: (3) amended, (HB 12-1292), ch. 181, p. 686, § 30, effective May 17.
Cross references: For the legislative declaration contained in the 2004 act amending subsection (2), see section 1 of chapter 334, Session Laws of Colorado 2004.
The rules define a “damaged ballot” as a ballot that is torn, bent, or otherwise mutilated or rendered unreadable, so that it cannot be processed by the optical scanner ballot reader. Damaged ballots include:
(a) All ballots that contain a foreign substance that could interfere with the optical scanner (e.g. food, drink, etc.).
(b) Ballots that are marked in a medium or manner other than indicated in the ballot instructions.
(c) Ballots that the elector marked in a way that would disclose his or her identity.
1. Definition for Designated election official
The secretary of state, a county clerk and recorder, or other election official as provided by article XXI of the state constitution. C.R.S. § 1-12-100.5.
2. Definition for Ballot
(a) A federal write-in absentee ballot;
(b) A ballot specifically prepared or distributed for use by a covered voter in accordance with this article; or
(c) A ballot cast by a covered voter in accordance with this article.
(2) “Covered voter” means:
(a) A uniformed-service voter defined in paragraph (a) of subsection (9) of this section who is a resident of this state but who is absent from this state by reason of active duty and who otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;
(b) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, was last eligible to vote in this state and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;
(c) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, would have been last eligible to vote in this state had the voter then been of voting age and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements; or
(d) An overseas voter who was born outside the United States, is not described in paragraph (b) or (c) of this subsection (2), and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements if the last place where a parent, legal guardian, spouse, or civil union partner of the voter was, or under this article would have been, eligible to vote before leaving the United States is within this state.
C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.
3. Definition for Person
Any natural person, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization, political party, or other organization or group of persons. Section 2(11) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.
4. Definition for Election
Any election under the “Uniform Election Code of 1992” or the “Colorado Municipal Election Code of 1965”, article 10 of title 31, C.R.S. C.R.S. § 1-7.5-103.
5. Definition for Candidate
Any person who seeks nomination or election to any state or local public office that is to be voted on in this state at any primary election, general election, school district election, special district election, or municipal election. “Candidate” also includes a judge or justice of any court of record who seeks to be retained in office pursuant to the provisions of section 25 of article VI. A person is a candidate for election if the person has publicly announced an intention to seek election to public office or retention of a judicial office and thereafter has received a contribution or made an expenditure in support of the candidacy. A person remains a candidate for purposes of this article so long as the candidate maintains a registered candidate committee. A person who maintains a candidate committee after an election cycle, but who has not publicly announced an intention to seek election to public office in the next or any subsequent election cycle, is a candidate for purposes of this article. Section 2(2) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.