Boulder County Assessor’s Office will be closed Thursday, Nov. 30. The offices will reopen Monday, Dec. 4.

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.

Additionally, for 2023, please review our Ranked Choice Voting – Ballot Processing & Results Reporting page for information on that process and how to interpret results.

November 21 Update: Automatic Recount Information for the City of Boulder – City Council Contest

Background: If there is more than one person to be elected, an automatic recount is triggered when the difference between the votes cast for the candidate who won the election with the least votes and the candidate who lost the election with the most votes is less than or equal to one-half of one percent (0.5%) of the votes cast for the candidate who won the election with the least votes. The City of Boulder had 10 candidates vying for 4 open seats on city council. The final unofficial results posted on November 16 showed a vote difference of 47 votes between the 4th place candidate (Schuchard 14,412 votes) to the 5th place candidate (Brncic 14,365 votes). Thus, the difference between candidates is .00326… which is less than .005 or the .5% threshold, thus an automatic recount is required.

Process: After the closeness of the race was determined, Boulder County Elections notified the candidates and the City of Boulder Clerk’s office. The recount will consist of a full rescan of City of Boulder ballots, which will also include re-adjudicating any ballots as needed. Ballot adjudication occurs when a voter changes their mind on a contest (or makes a mistake) and/or has conflicting markings on their ballot on a particular contest. Ballot adjudication is done by a bipartisan team of election judges using Secretary of State guidelines on how to interpret the voter’s intentions. During a recount, ballots with under votes (i.e., ballots with less than the maximum number of selections or ballots with no apparent voter markings within the target areas aka filled in bubbles) are also examined.

Timing: Prior to conducting the recount, the county must retest the voting system (a mini version of the Logic and Accuracy test conducted prior to each election). Then, the recount is expected to only take only one day, but a contingency day is planned. The recount is finalized when the Canvass Board reviews and certifies the recount results. The county is required to complete the recount no later than December 8.

Recount Schedule

Date Time Activity
Thursday, Nov 30 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm Conduct Test of Voting System
Tuesday, Dec 5 9:00 am – 5:30 pm Conduct Recount
Wednesday, Dec 6 9:00 am – 5:30 pm Recount Contingency Day*
Wednesday, Dec 6 3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Canvass

*We will cancel contingency day if not needed

Ballot Processing on Election Night & Beyond

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

Election Night – Tuesday, November 7:

  • 7:15 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • 8:45 p.m.
  • 11 p.m.
  • 1 a.m. (Wednesday)

Wednesday, November 8

  • 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 9

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

Thursday, November 16

  • 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.

Eligible ballots received during the 8-day window after the election are processed on the 9th day – Thursday, November 16. We will update unofficial election results by the evening of November 16. 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 Saturday, November 18 (main audit) beginning at 12:30 p.m. and Monday, November 20 (RCV contest audit) beginning at 8 a.m. 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 Nov 28 at 1 p.m. RSVP to

  • 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)).
    • For our RCV contest, we will calculate the percentage difference based on candidate Final Round vote totals.
  • 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)


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