Denver election worker claims hundreds of early voters' ballots invalidate their vote for president

Too many votes in 1 race doesn't spoil ballot

DENVER - Hundreds of Denver early voters are invalidating their vote for president by selecting multiple candidates, according to a Denver election worker.

"It's a great shame and a great tragedy that anyone, even a single vote, is cast in such a way that it does not count," said Denver election worker Ron Weil.

Weil contacted 7NEWS after he said he witnessed hundreds of early voter ballots with multiple selections for president. The Colorado ballot has 16 candidates for president. Voters are supposed to select one pair for "President/Vice President."

"They are voting for as many as 14 or 15 of the 16 candidates," said Weil.

These ballots are not getting counted multiple times. Instead, that voter's choice for president simply won't count, because it's unclear which one candidate they wanted to receive their vote.

"Hundreds and hundreds of Denver voters are choosing multiple candidates for president, thereby wiping out their own choice," said Weil.

"Is it possible there is fraud? Someone going in and filling pencil marks?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"Absolutely not. Ballot security is first and foremost at the Denver Elections Division," Weil said. "I have never seen one instance of tampering, fraud or conspiracy. These are ballots that have had eyeballs on them in the most transparent way throughout the processing stages."

7NEWS asked Denver election officials how many early ballots have resulted in overvotes.

Those statistics aren't tracked that specifically until after the election. But according to Elections Division spokesman Alton Dillard, about 2.5 percent of 80,000 early votes -- about 2,000 -- have been duplicated. Duplication happens after a voting machine kicks out a ballot because of a mistake or an error.

"It could be everything from an overvote; someone might have spilled coffee on it; the corner might have gotten torn off in postal handling," said Dillard.

That ballot gets reviewed by bipartisan election workers and then the ballot is duplicated onto a fresh ballot with the appropriate vote selections. If that ballot included any races that had been overvoted, those races won't be duplicated onto the fresh ballot, meaning that voter did not cast a ballot for the race they originally overvoted.

"If you overvote a race on your ballot, it only invalidates that race," said Dillard. "It says clearly at the top, vote for one pair (for President/Vice President). If they make a mistake on it, they can come to a voter service center and request a replacement (ballot)."

There's no way voters could be contacted about errors on their ballots. The signature envelope has already been separated from the actual ballot by the time ballots are processed through the machine.

"When we have a box of 600 ballots, we have absolutely no idea who or which voter belongs to any ballot," Weil said.

"Presidential elections do draw a lot of infrequent and first-time voters. So just, everyone, take your time and fill out your ballot properly," said Dillard.