An Election Law Guide for Colorado Residents

Answering common questions about voter registration in Colorado

By Doug Mentes, Esq. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on November 14, 2023

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Colorado makes voter registration straightforward. By law, the state offers election-day voter registration and sends ballots by mail to registered voters prior to a general election. Residents who register at least eight days prior to an election will receive a ballot by mail. The state offers a variety of locations to drop off the ballot prior to an election.

Who Can Vote in Colorado?

To vote in Colorado, an individual must be:

  • 18 years of age;
  • A U.S. citizen; and
  • Have resided in Colorado for at least 22 days prior to the election.

Colorado state law defines residence for voting purposes as the primary home of the voter. Residents can leave the state for periods of time and still claim Colorado residence if they have an intention to return.

Like many states, Colorado prohibits individuals serving felony convictions from registering to vote. However, once the sentence (including parole) is served, the state allows the individual to regain their voting rights automatically, without petitioning the state or governor’s office.

How Do I Register to Vote?

You can register to vote online if you have a valid Colorado driver’s license/state-issued ID card or Social Security Number. Alternatively, you can file the paper voter registration form and provide a form of identification at the time of voting at a polling center.

Do I Need to Have a Political Affiliation In Order to Register?

No. On the voter registration form, you have the option to select your political party affiliation from a list or choose to be unaffiliated. Party affiliation is not required to register to vote or to vote in a primary election. However, unaffiliated voters can only vote for one political party in a primary. If they select more than one political party on a primary ballot, the ballot will be discarded, and none of their votes will be counted.

When Can I Register to Vote?

Colorado voters can register to vote any time before an election or register on the day of an election. All voters who vote at the polls must provide identification to the election official.

What Form of Identification Do I Need to Register to Vote?

For voters who are voting by mail for the first time, they must provide a photocopy of their identification when they return their mail ballot. Colorado law allows voters to use many different forms of identification, including:

  • A valid Colorado driver’s license or valid identification card issued by the Colorado Department of Revenue;
  • A valid U.S. passport;
  • A valid government employee identification card;
  • A copy of a current (within the last 60 days) utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the elector;
  • A valid Medicare or Medicaid card issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;
  • A certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate;
  • Certified documentation of naturalization;
  • A valid student identification card with a photograph of the eligible elector issued by an institute of higher education in Colorado;
  • A valid veteran identification card issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or similar military ID; and
  • Tribal or similar ID.

There are other available forms of ID as well, listed on the Colorado secretary of state website. Any form of identification must show a Colorado mailing address to qualify as an acceptable form of identification.

Does Colorado Purge Inactive Voters?

Inactive Colorado voters may eventually have their registrations canceled. An inactive voter is a voter who does not vote, register to vote, or update their voter registration for two consecutive general elections, which occur every two years. If the voter fails to respond to a notice sent by the Colorado secretary of state, the county clerk can cancel the voter’s registration and that individual must register again.

What Can I Do If My Voting Rights are Infringed?

Even with easy access to voting in Colorado, voters may still encounter obstacles in the election process. If you feel your voting rights have been infringed, contact an experienced Colorado civil rights attorney to ensure your rights are protected. For additional information on this area of law, see our civil rights overview.

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