Ballot Processing Election Night & Beyond

Ballot Processing Election Night & Beyond

Boulder County Elections gets many questions in the immediate hours and days after the polls close about how many ballots are left to be counted. We hope to shed some light on what happens on election night and beyond on this page and to provide you with the resources you need to figure out how many are left to be counted.

Ballot Processing on Election Night & Beyond

Unofficial results will be posted on the following days/times (times are approximate):

Election Night – Tuesday, March 5: (Schedule updated election evening)

  • 7:15 p.m.
  • 8:45 p.m.
  • Some time after 11 p.m.

Wednesday, March 6

  • Mid-late afternoon after ballot processing is complete prior to 9th day posting

Thursday, March 14 (9th day posting after Cure / Military / Overseas deadline)

  • End of Day

Why not more results postings?

Pulling results from our Voting System means almost all activity must pause while we tabulate results. Fewer postings means we can process faster, especially on election night.

Unofficial results will be posted on the following days/times (times are approximate):

Election Night – Tuesday, March 5:

  • 7:15 p.m.
  • 8:45 p.m.
  • 11 p.m.
  • 1 a.m. (Wednesday)

Wednesday, March 6

  • 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 7

  • 4:30 p.m.
  • Additional postings on Friday if needed

Thursday, March 14

  • End of Day

Why not more results postings?

Pulling results from our Voting System means almost all activity must pause while we tabulate results. Fewer postings means we can process faster, especially on election night.

To calculate how many ballots are left to count, you can compare our Ballots Returned data* to our Ballots Counted (results) data. The difference between how many ballots have been returned and how many have already been counted provides an estimate* of how many are left to be counted.

*The Ballots Returned data is reliant on Secretary of State data pushes, which vary. The page is updated daily from the prior day returns daily at 7 a.m. Beginning on Election Day at noon, page is updated every three hours from the SOS data. Thus, please keep in mind that on Election Night, ballot returns data has a several hour lag. Additionally, ballot returns include every ballot received, thus that figure will always be higher than what we ultimately count (e.g., not all voters cure their ballot, but their ballot will still be included in the returns data).


By law, there is an 8-day period after the election during which some ballots can still be received/counted. These include:

  • Ballots received by 7 p.m. on election night that have not finished the ballot processing steps. See this ballot processing infographic for details or watch our ballot processing tour video to understand all the steps a ballot takes from receipt to counted. We can only process so many ballots a day, and when we receive many on election day, particularly in the final hours, ballot processing typically takes until Thursday or later to complete.
  • Military and Overseas (UOCAVA) mail ballots – These ballots legally have until end of day on the 8th day to arrive. Historically, less than 5% of UOCAVA mail ballots are received after Election Day.
  • Voters who turned in their ballots by 7 p.m. on Election Day but need to cure (i.e. resolve) an issue with their ballot envelope (e.g., signature discrepancies, missing signatures/ID). Voters who need to cure an issue with their ballot envelope must respond with the appropriate affidavit to our office by end of business on the 8th day or via email or by using text2cure by 11:59 p.m. that day.
  • Ballots returned to another Colorado county clerk’s office or collected by Denver Elections from USPS at 7 p.m. – If a voter returned their ballot by 7 p.m. on Election Day to another county clerk in Colorado, the ballot is either given to us at our Wednesday county ballot exchange at Denver Elections* or is sent to us (typically via Fed Ex or similar). Of this category, we immediately process ballots received from the county exchange to include in the Wednesday or Thursday unofficial results postings, but ballots received after this immediate period are held for the 9th day to process.
  • Ballots held to preserve voter anonymity – We reserve 3 ballots per precinct per district style to help preserve the anonymity for the potential cured or mail UOCAVA ballots that come in within the 8-day window.
  • Manual Process ballots – Ballots that typically come in during the last 24 hours and had an issue that prevents them from immediately being processed (e.g., damaged envelope so it can’t go through the mail sorter; dirty or food-stained so it can’t go through the scanners; poorly marked so election judges need to review for voter intent). There are typically at least 500 or more of these ballots.

*At 7 p.m. on election night, Denver Election officials physically receive (on behalf of all county clerks) any Colorado mail ballots still at the main Denver USPS Mail Processing Center. These ballots are then provided to counties at the ballot exchange on Wednesday morning (or sent to counties that cannot attend, e.g. Western Slope counties). At this same exchange, attending counties that have received ballots from other counties in their drop boxes can exchange ballots.

Go Deeper!

Want to learn even more about ballot processing and what happens election night & in the days immediately after? Watch our Election Night & Beyond webinar. (Note: this website is only held when there are competitive local contests. This webinar is from Nov 2023).

Eligible ballots received during the 8-day window after the election are processed on the 9th day – Thursday, March 14. We will update unofficial election results by the evening of March 14. Typically, the results will not change after this date.

After every election, we validate election outcomes through the Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA), a statistically-based audit that uses a sample of randomly selected physical ballots and compares the votes on each of those ballots to the way the scanner read each ballot at the time of scanning. For more details about the audit, please see the Secretary of State’s Audit Center.

The RLA is open to members of the public and will be conducted on Tuesday, March 19 (round 1) beginning at 12:30 p.m. We will have March 20 and 21 for contingency and/or round 2 audit dates (subject to round 1 / results of statewide RLA). RSVP by emailing

Certification of election results occurs during the canvass board meeting. The Canvass Board is comprised of the County Clerk or her designee along with a bipartisan team – one Republican and one Democratic representative (appointed by the local party chairs). During the meeting, staff presents data in great detail on the election results including ballots received and ballots counted, including mail ballots vs. in person. This data is also summarized in the Reconciliation Report. Certification signals that the election results are complete, accurate, and final.

This meeting is open to the public. The canvass meeting is set for Thursday, March 21 at 2 p.m. RSVP to

Note: For the presidential primary, the contest would need to be close statewide.

  • A recount of any election contest shall be held if the difference between the highest number of votes cast in that election contest and the next highest number of votes cast in that election contest is less than or equal to one-half of one percent of the highest vote cast in that election contest (CRS 1-10.5-101(b)).
  • A recount shall occur only after the Canvass Board certifies the original vote count.
  • If a automatic recount is not required, an interested party may submit a notarized written request for a recount at the expense of the interested party. This request shall be filed with the secretary of state, the county clerk and recorder, within twenty-two days after the election.

Automatic Recount Example – Two candidate race:

Total ballots returned 10,099

  • Candidate A 5,034
  • Candidate B 5,065

Calculation for a recount:

  • Difference between candidates = 31
  • Winning candidate vote total = 5065
  • Winning candidate vote difference less than < or = to .5%
  • 31/5065= .006120434 or .6%

No automatic recount required

Automatic Recount Example 2: Multiple Candidate Race (top 5 win)

Total ballots returned:

  • Candidate 4th place 10,213
  • Candidate 5th place 8,986
  • Candidate 6th place 8,861
  • Candidate 7th place 8,819

Calculation for a recount:

  • Difference between candidates (Candidate 5 and 6) = 125
  • Winning candidate vote total = 8,986 (candidate in 5th place)
  • Difference between candidates/ Winning candidate vote total less than< or = to .005 or .5%
  • 125/8986= .0139105 or 1.3%

No automatic recount required

Follow us on Social Media for deviations on results posting schedule: in case we run early, late, or add an extra posting:

Twitter (typically where we post first): BoCoClerk
Facebook: BoulderCountyClerk
Instagram: BoulderCountyElections

Contact Us

Elections Division


303-413-7728 (Fax)
Boulder County Elections website

7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Fridays


Boulder: 1750 33rd St. (main office)
Map and Directions Boulder Location

Longmont: 529 Coffman St.*
Map and Directions Longmont Location

Lafayette: 1755 S. Public Road*
Map and Directions Lafayette Location
* Longmont and Lafayette locations only offer paper voter registration forms

Mailing Address

1750 33rd St., Suite 200
Boulder, CO 80301

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