| AspenTimes.com

Biden takes the helm as president: ‘Democracy has prevailed’

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, as their children Ashley and Hunter watch.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, declaring that “democracy has prevailed” and summoning American resilience and unity to confront the deeply divided nation’s historic confluence of crises.

Denouncing a national “uncivil war,” Biden took the oath at a U.S. Capitol that had been battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks earlier. Then, taking his place in the White House Oval Office, he plunged into a stack of executive actions that began to undo the heart of his polarizing predecessor ‘s agenda on matters from the deadly pandemic to climate change.

At the Capitol, with America’s tradition of peaceful transfers of power never appearing more fragile, the ceremony unfolded within a circle of security forces evocative of a war zone and devoid of crowds because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, Biden gazed out on a cold Washington morning dotted with snow flurries to see over 200,000 American flags planted on the National Mall to symbolize those who could not attend in person.

“The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden declared in his speech. “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”

History was made at his side, as Kamala Harris became the first woman to be vice president. The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in the U.S. government.

Biden never mentioned his predecessor, who defied tradition and left town ahead of the ceremony, but his speech was an implicit rebuke of Donald Trump. The new president denounced “lies told for power and for profit” and was blunt about the challenges ahead.

Central among them: the surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States, as well as economic strains and a national reckoning over race.

“We have much to do in this winter of peril, and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain,” Biden said. “Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged, or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now.”

Biden was eager to go big early, with an ambitious first 100 days including a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass a $1.9 trillion economic relief package. It included a blitz of executive orders on matters that don’t require congressional approval — a mix of substantive and symbolic steps to unwind the Trump years. His actions included re-entry into the Paris Climate Accords and a mandate for wearing masks on federal property.

“There’s no time to start like today,” a masked Biden said. in the Oval Office. Then he swore in hundreds of aides — virtually — telling them, “You’re my possibilities.”

The absence of Biden’s predecessor from the inaugural ceremony underscored the national rift to be healed.

But a bipartisan trio of former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — were there to witness the transfer of power. Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, was at his Florida resort by the time the swearing-in took place.

Biden, in his third run for the presidency, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. Four years after Trump’s “American Carnage” speech painted a dark portrait of national decay, Biden warned that the fabric of the nation’s democracy was tearing but could be repaired.

“I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart,” Biden said. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward and we must meet this moment as the United States of America.”

Swearing the oath with his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, Biden came to office with a well of empathy and resolve born by personal tragedy as well as a depth of experience forged from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he is the oldest president inaugurated.

Both he, Harris and their spouses walked the last short part of the route to the White House after an abridged parade. Biden then strode into the Oval Office, a room he knew well as vice president, for the first time as commander in chief.

At the Capitol earlier, Biden, like all those in attendance, wore a face mask except when speaking. Tens of thousands of National Guard troops were on the streets to provide security precisely two weeks after a violent mob of Trump supporters, incited by the Republican president, stormed the building in an attempt to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory.

“Here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people,” Biden said. “To stop the work of our democracy. To drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever.”

The tense atmosphere evoked the 1861 inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, who was secretly transported to Washington to avoid assassins on the eve of the Civil War, or Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural in 1945, when he opted for a small, secure ceremony at the White House in the waning months of World War II.

But Washington, all but deserted downtown and in its federal areas, was quiet. And calm also prevailed outside heavily fortified state Capitol buildings across nation after the FBI had warned of the possibility for armed demonstrations leading up to the inauguration.

The day began with a reach across the political aisle after four years of bitter partisan battles under Trump. At Biden’s invitation, congressional leaders from both parties bowed their heads in prayer in the socially distanced service a few blocks from the White House.

Biden was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts; Harris by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the Supreme Court. Vice President Mike Pence, standing in for Trump, sat nearby as Lady Gaga, holding a golden microphone, sang the National Anthem accompanied by the U.S. Marine Corps band.

When Pence, in a last act of the outgoing administration, left the Capitol, he walked through a door with badly cracked glass from the riot two weeks ago. Later, Biden, Harris and their spouses were joined by the former presidents to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony.

By afternoon, a White House desolate in Trump’s waning days sprang back to life, with Biden staffers settling in and new COVID-19 safety measures, like plastic shields on desks, in place.

In the evening, in lieu of the traditional balls that welcome a new president to Washington, Biden and Harris appeared separately at the Lincoln Memorial to take part in a televised concert that also marked the return of A-list celebrities to the White House orbit after they largely eschewed Trump. Among those in the lineup: Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Bidens ended their evening watching fireworks from a White House balcony.

This was not an inauguration for the crowds. But Americans in the capital city nonetheless brought their hopes to the moment.

“I feel so hopeful, so thankful,” said Karen Jennings Crooms, a D.C. resident who hoped to catch a glimpse of the presidential motorcade on Pennsylvania Avenue with her husband. “It makes us sad that this is where we are but hopeful that democracy will win out in the end. That’s what I’m focusing on.”

Trump was the first president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. After a brief farewell celebration at nearby Joint Base Andrews, he boarded Air Force One for the final time as president.

“I will always fight for you. I will be watching. I will be listening and I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better,” said Trump. He wished the incoming administration well but never mentioned Biden’s name.

Trump did adhere to one tradition and left a personal note for Biden in the Oval Office. Biden would only tell reporters that it was “a very generous letter.”

Trump, in his farewell video remarks, hinted at a political return, saying “we will be back in some form.” Without question, he will shadow Biden’s first days in office.

Trump’s second impeachment trial could start as early as this week. That will test the ability of the Senate, now coming under Democratic control, to balance impeachment proceedings with confirmation hearings and votes on Biden’s Cabinet choices.

Biden defeats Trump in race for President, says it’s ‘time to heal’

WASHINGTON — Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to be a leader who “seeks not to divide, but to unify” a nation gripped by a historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil.

“I sought this office to restore the soul of America,” said Biden in a prime-time victory speech not far from his Delaware home, “and to make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home.”

His victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed processing. Biden crossed the winning threshold of 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania.

Trump refused to concede, threatening further legal action on ballot counting.

Biden, 77, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. The strategy proved effective, resulting in pivotal victories in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Pennsylvania, onetime Democratic bastions that had flipped to Trump in 2016.

Biden’s victory was a repudiation of Trump’s divisive leadership and the president-elect now inherits a deeply polarized nation grappling with foundational questions of racial justice and economic fairness while in the grips of a virus that has killed more than 236,000 Americans and reshaped the norms of everyday life.

Kamala Harris made history as the first Black woman to become vice president, an achievement that comes as the U.S. faces a reckoning on racial justice. The California senator, who is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency, will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, four years after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

Harris introduced Biden “as a president for all Americans” who would look to bridge a nation riven with partisanship and nodded to the historic nature of her ascension to the vice presidency.

“Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before,” Harris said. “You chose hope and unity, decency, science and, yes, truth … you ushered in a new day for America.”

Biden was on track to win the national popular vote by more than 4 million, a margin that could grow as ballots continue to be counted.

Nonetheless, Trump was not giving up.

Departing from longstanding democratic tradition and signaling a potentially turbulent transfer of power, he issued a combative statement saying his campaign would take unspecified legal actions. And he followed up with a bombastic, all-caps tweet in which he falsely declared, “I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES.” Twitter immediately flagged it as misleading.

Trump has pointed to delays in processing the vote in some states to allege with no evidence that there was fraud and to argue that his rival was trying to seize power — an extraordinary charge by a sitting president trying to sow doubt about a bedrock democratic process.

Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.

He was golfing at his Virginia country club when he lost the race. He stayed out for hours, stopping to congratulate a bride as he left, and his motorcade returned to the White House to a cacophony of shouts, taunts and unfriendly hand gestures.

In Wilmington, Delaware, near the stage that, until Saturday night, had stood empty since it was erected to celebrate on Election Night, people cheered and pumped their fists as the news that the presidential race had been called for the state’s former senator arrived on their cellphones.

On the nearby water, two men in a kayak yelled to a couple paddling by in the opposite direction, “Joe won! They called it!” as people on the shore whooped and hollered. Harris, in workout gear, was shown on video speaking to Biden on the phone, exuberantly telling the president-elect “We did it!” Biden was expected to take the stage for a drive-in rally after dark.

Across the country, there were parties and prayer. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. Among the loudest cheers were those for passing U.S. Postal Service trucks.

People streamed into Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, near where Trump had ordered the clearing of protesters in June, waving signs and taking cellphone pictures. In Lansing, Michigan, Trump supporters and Black Lives Matter demonstrators filled the Capitol steps. The lyrics to “Amazing Grace” began to echo through the crowd, and Trump supporters laid their hands on a counter protester, and prayed.

Americans showed deep interest in the presidential race. A record 103 million voted early this year, opting to avoid waiting in long lines at polling locations during a pandemic. With counting continuing in some states, Biden had already received more than 74 million votes, more than any presidential candidate before him.

Trump’s refusal to concede has no legal implications. But it could add to the incoming administration’s challenge of bringing the country together after a bitter election.

Throughout the campaign, Trump repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, arguing without evidence that the election could be marred by fraud. The nation has a long history of presidential candidates peacefully accepting the outcome of elections, dating back to 1800, when John Adams conceded to his rival Thomas Jefferson.

It was Biden’s native Pennsylvania that put him over the top, the state he invoked throughout the campaign to connect with working class voters. He also won Nevada on Saturday, pushing his total to 290 Electoral College votes.

Biden received congratulations from dozens of world leaders, and his former boss, President Barack Obama, saluted him in a statement, declaring the nation was “fortunate that Joe’s got what it takes to be President and already carries himself that way.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill were giving Trump and his campaign space to consider all their legal options. It was a precarious balance for Trump’s allies as they try to be supportive of the president — and avoid risking further fallout — but face the reality of the vote count.

On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had not yet made any public statements — either congratulating Biden or joining Trump’s complaints. But retiring GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is close to McConnell, said, “After counting every valid vote and allowing courts to resolve disputes, it is important to respect and promptly accept the result.”

More than 236,000 Americans have died during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 10 million have been infected and millions of jobs have been lost. The final days of the campaign played out against a surge in confirmed cases in nearly every state, including battlegrounds such as Wisconsin that swung to Biden.

The pandemic will soon be Biden’s to tame, and he campaigned pledging a big government response, akin to what Franklin D. Roosevelt oversaw with the New Deal during the Depression of the 1930s. But Senate Republicans fought back several Democratic challengers and looked to retain a fragile majority that could serve as a check on such Biden ambition.

The 2020 campaign was a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which has shuttered schools across the nation, disrupted businesses and raised questions about the feasibility of family gatherings heading into the holidays.

The fast spread of the coronavirus transformed political rallies from standard campaign fare to gatherings that were potential public health emergencies. It also contributed to an unprecedented shift to voting early and by mail and prompted Biden to dramatically scale back his travel and events to comply with restrictions. The president defied calls for caution and ultimately contracted the disease himself.

Trump was saddled throughout the year by negative assessments from the public of his handling of the pandemic. There was another COVID-19 outbreak in the White House this week, which sickened his chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Biden also drew a sharp contrast to Trump through a summer of unrest over the police killings of Black Americans including Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minneapolis. Their deaths sparked the largest racial protest movement since the civil rights era. Biden responded by acknowledging the racism that pervades American life, while Trump emphasized his support of police and pivoted to a “law and order” message that resonated with his largely white base.

The third president to be impeached, though acquitted in the Senate, Trump will leave office having left an indelible imprint in a tenure defined by the shattering of White House norms and a day-to-day whirlwind of turnover, partisan divide and Twitter blasts.

Trump’s team has filed a smattering of lawsuits in battleground states, some of which were immediately rebuffed by judges. His personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was holding a news conference in Philadelphia threatening more legal action when the race was called.

Biden, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and raised in Delaware, was one of the youngest candidates ever elected to the Senate. Before he took office, his wife and daughter were killed, and his two sons badly injured in a 1972 car crash.

Commuting every night on a train from Washington back to Wilmington, Biden fashioned an everyman political persona to go along with powerful Senate positions, including chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. Some aspects of his record drew critical scrutiny from fellow Democrats, including his support for the 1994 crime bill, his vote for the 2003 Iraq War and his management of the Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court hearings.

Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign was done in by plagiarism allegations, and his next bid in 2008 ended quietly. But later that year, he was tapped to be Barack Obama’s running mate and he became an influential vice president, steering the administration’s outreach to both Capitol Hill and Iraq.

While his reputation was burnished by his time in office and his deep friendship with Obama, Biden stood aside for Clinton and opted not to run in 2016 after his adult son Beau died of brain cancer the year before.

Trump’s tenure pushed Biden to make one more run as he declared that “the very soul of the nation is at stake.”

Pitkin County election results: Updated numbers from nearly 12k ballots

A look at the update numbers for Pitkin County only results as of Wednesday. Pitkin County Clerk & Record said there will not be another update until the finals numbers are sent to the state within eight days of the election.

There were 11,956 ballots cast of 13,774 active Pitkin County voters. For more information, go to pitkinvotes.com:

RACES

Federal

President

Joe Biden 8,906 (75.29%)

Donald Trump 2,739 (23.15%)

U.S. Senate

John Hickenlooper 8,688 (74.02%)

Cory Gardner 2,890 (24.62%)

U.S. House District 3

Diane Mitsch Bush 8,614 (73.71%)

Lauren Boebert 2,790 (23.87%)

State

School Board District 3

Mayling Simpson 7,953 (71.15%)

Joyce Rankin 3,225 (28.85%)

House District 61

Julie McCluskie 8,332 (73.93%)

Kim McGahey 2,938 (26.07%)

Pitkin County

Commissioner District 3

Greg Poschman 8,903 (100%)

(ran unopposed)

Commissioner District 4

Steve Child 7,459 (71.69%)

Chris Council 2,945 (28.31%)

Commissioner District 5

Francie Jacober 7,603 (72.42%)

Jeffrey Evans 2,895 (27.58%)

Snowmass Village

Mayor

Bill Madsen 898 (54.1%)

Tom Goode 762 (45.9%)

Council
(2 open seats)

Alyssa Shenk 1,104 (37.06%)

Tom Fridstein 608 (20.41%)

Jeff Kremer 511 (17.15%)

Matthew Owens 483 (16.21%)

Gary Warr 273 (9.16%)

Judges

Justice of Colorado Supreme Court

Melissa Hart

Yes 7,412

No 1,564

Justice of Colorado Supreme Court

Carlos A. Samour

Yes 7,211

No 1,633

Colorado Court of Appeals Judge

Ted C. Tow III

Yes 6,821

No 1,807

Colorado Court of Appeals Judge

Craig R. Welling

Yes 6,801

No 1,811

District Court Judge — 9th Judicial Court

Denise K. Lynch

Yes 7,379

No 1,412

LOCAL ISSUES

Snowmass Village Ballot Issue 2A
Extension of property tax for educational purposes

Yes 1,362 (76.95%)

No 408 (23.05%)

Aspen Ballot Issue 2B
Extension of existing 0.3% sales tax for educational purposes

Yes 3,647 (78.7%)

No 987 (21.3%)

Aspen School District Ballot Issue 4A
$94.3 million bond

Yes 6,333 (73%)

No 2,342 (27%)

Starwood Metropolitan District Ballot Issue 6A

Yes 45 (59.21%)

No 31 (40.79%)

Colorado River Water Conservation District Ballot Issue 7A
Property tax for to safeguard western Colorado water

Yes 8,940 (79.58%)

No 2,294 (20.42%)

Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District Ballot Issue 7B
Mill levy extension

Yes 477 (72.27%)

No 183 (27.73%)

STATE ISSUES

Amendment B
Repeal Property Tax Assessment Rates

Yes 8,204 (75.12%)

No 2,717 (24.88%)

Amendment C
Charitable Bingo and Raffles Amendment

Yes 5,241 (46.41%)

No 6,051 (53.59%)

Amendment 76
Citizen Requirement for Voting

Yes 5,241 (46.41%)

No 6,051 (53.59%)

Amendment 77
Local voter approval for gaming limits

Yes 7,442 (68.87%)

No 3,364 (31.13%)

Proposition EE
Tax on nicotine liquids

Yes 9,440 (82.87%)

No 1,951 (17.13%)

Proposition 113
National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

Yes 8,008 (70.94%)

No 3,281 (29.06%)

Proposition 114
Gray wolf reintroduction

Yes 6,909 (61.74%)

No 4,281 (38.26%)

Proposition 115
22-week abortion ban

Yes 2,444 (21.77%)

No 8,785 (78.23%)

Proposition 116
State income tax rate reduction

Yes 5,446 (48.29%)

No 5,832 (51.71%)

Proposition 117
Voter Approval Requirement for Creation of Certain Fee-Based Enterprises

Yes 4,117 (39.55%)

No 6,293 (60.45%)

Proposition 118
Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

Yes 7,760 (69.89%)

No 3,343 (30.11%)

Trump sues in Pennsylvania, Michigan; asks for Wisconsin recount

WASHINGTON — The Trump campaign said it filed lawsuits Wednesday in Pennsylvania and Michigan, laying the groundwork for contesting the outcome in undecided battleground states that could determine whether President Donald Trump gets another four years in the White House.

Suits in both states are demanding better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted, the campaign said. The campaign also is seeking to intervene in a Pennsylvania case at the Supreme Court that deals with whether ballots received up to three days after the election can be counted, deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said.

The campaign said it is calling for a temporary halt in the counting in both states until it is given “meaningful” access in numerous locations and allowed to review ballots that already have been opened and processed. Trump is running slightly behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden in Michigan. The president is ahead in Pennsylvania but his margin is shrinking as more mailed ballots are counted.

There have been no reports of fraud or any type of ballot concerns out of Pennsylvania. The state had 3.1 million mail-in ballots that take time to count and an order allows them to be counted up until Friday if they are postmarked by Nov. 3.

The campaign also said it would ask for a recount in Wisconsin, a state The Associated Press called for Biden on Wednesday afternoon. Campaign manager Bill Stepien cited “irregularities in several Wisconsin counties.”

The actions came as elections officials counted votes in several undecided states that are crucial to the outcome of the presidential election.

The former vice president’s campaign meanwhile welcomed the ongoing vote count and a Biden campaign attorney said they are ready for any legal fight. And Michigan Democrats said the suit was a longshot.

Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group, said Trump only filed the suit to stop The Associated Press and other media outlets from calling the race for Biden.

“This is a Hail Mary,” he said.

The campaign didn’t immediately make public a copy of the lawsuit and it wasn’t clear what in areas they argue they were denied access.

Poll watchers from both sides were plentiful Wednesday at one major polling place in question — Detroit’s TCF Center, The Associated Press observed. They checked in at a table near the entrance to the convention center’s Hall E and strolled among the tables where ballot processing was taking place. In some cases, they arrived en masse and huddled together for a group discussion before fanning out to the floor. Uniformed Detroit police officers were on hand to make sure everyone was behaving.

Mark Brewer, a former state Democratic chairman who said he was observing the Detroit vote counting as a volunteer lawyer, said he had been at the TCF arena all day and had talked with others who had been there the past couple of days. He said Republicans had not been denied access.

“This is the best absentee ballot counting operation that Detroit has ever had. They are counting ballots very efficiently, despite the obstructing tactics of the Republicans.”

Republicans already are mounting other legal challenges involving absentee votes in Pennsylvania and Nevada, contesting local decisions that could take on national significance in the close election.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump said he’ll take the presidential election to the Supreme Court, but it’s unclear what he meant in a country in which vote tabulations routinely continue beyond Election Day, and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end.

“We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court — we want all voting to stop,” Trump told supporters at the White House.

But the voting is over. It’s only counting that is taking place across the nation. No state will count absentee votes that are postmarked after Election Day.

Biden’s campaign called Trump’s statement “outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect.”

“If the president makes good on his threat to go to court to try to prevent the proper tabulation of votes, we have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort,” Biden Campaign Manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement. “And they will prevail.”

Election law expert Richard Hasen wrote in Slate on Sunday that “there has never been any basis to claim that a ballot arriving on time cannot be counted if officials cannot finish their count on election night.”

Ohio State University election law professor Edward Foley wrote on Twitter Wednesday: “The valid votes will be counted. SCOTUS would be involved only if there were votes of questionable validity that would make a difference, which might not be the case. The rule of law will determine the official winner of the popular vote in each state. Let the rule of law work.”

In any event, there’s no way to go directly to the high court with a claim of fraud. Trump and his campaign could allege problems with the way votes are counted in individual states, but they would have to start their legal fight in a state or lower federal court.

There is a pending Republican appeal at the Supreme Court over whether Pennsylvania can count votes that arrive in the mail from Wednesday to Friday, an extension ordered by the state’s top court over the objection of Republicans. That case does not involve ballots already cast and in the possession of election officials, even if they are yet to be counted.

The high court refused before the election to rule out those ballots, but conservative justices indicated they could revisit the issue after the election. The Supreme Court also refused to block an extension for the receipt and counting of absentee ballots in North Carolina beyond the three days set by state law.

Even a small number of contested votes could matter if either state determines the winner of the election and the gap between Trump and Biden is so small that a few thousand votes, or even a few hundred, could make the difference.

Congressional District 3: Lauren Boebert secures win over Diane Mitsch Bush

Republican Lauren Boebert beat Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in the race to represent Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in Congress.

Statewide, initial polls show Boebert up 51% to 45.7% over Mitsch Bush. An estimated 88% of votes had been reported as of 12:25 a.m. Wednesday.

In Pitkin County, preliminary results show Mitsch Bush securing more votes, 8,614 to Boebert’s 2,790 votes, according to tallies from the Pitkin County Clerk & Recorder’s office at 12:09 a.m.

In a statement released at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, Boebert’s said: “It is an incredible honor and privilege to win this election and have the opportunity to be the first mom to serve Colorado’s Third Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. I am so thankful to everyone who supported my campaign for freedom and prosperity.”

The Congressional race is indicative of national campaign trends, pitting a Democrat with years of legislative experience under her belt and a history of bipartisan voting against a political newcomer who has based her campaign on a promise to “drain the swamp.”

Mitsch Bush, a former state legislator and Routt County commissioner, has outraised and outspent her competitor but kept her campaign events virtual during COVID-19 pandemic, citing health concerns. She vied for the same seat in 2018 but lost to five-term incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton.

“The voters have spoken. I did not get enough votes to win,” Mitsch Bush said in state released at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday.

Boebert, a business owner with no prior political experience, has cast herself as a Donald Trump acolyte. She wears one of the president’s hats at nearly every campaign event she hosts. Like the staff of her Rifle restaurant, Shooters Grill, Boebert often carries a firearm on her hip and is a vocal champion of gun rights. She surprised establishment politicians by beating Tipton in the primaries. 

Adding to her reputation as a nontraditional candidate, Boebert has faced questions and news headlines over her arrest record, controversial comments on the QAnon conspiracy theory and inquiries over unpaid taxes on her business.

The 3rd Congressional District is a sprawling, red-leaning district that has been in Republican control for more than a decade. It spans from Routt County in the north down to Durango near the southern corner of the state and across the eastern plains to the city of Pueblo. It spans almost half of Colorado’s land mass and 29 of its 64 counties. 

Colorado U.S. Senate seat: John Hickenlooper knocks out incumbent Cory Gardner

Democrat John Hickenlooper has defeated Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in one of the closest-watched Senate races in the nation.

Gardner was widely seen as one of the most vulnerable Republicans because Colorado had shifted strongly to the left since his election to the Senate in 2014. Hickenlooper is a popular former two-term governor who relentlessly tied Gardner to President Donald Trump during the race.

“Clearly people are saying it’s time to turn the page,” Hickenlooper said in a Facebook address after his victory. “It’s time to start solving problems and that’s what I intend to do.”

Hickenlooper cited the coronavirus pandemic, health care, climate change and racial justice as some of his priorities in Washington. He also thanked Gardner for his service.

“Lord knows the system in Washington is a broken mess,” Hickenlooper said. “Tonight, I pledge to work my heart out for the state I love.”

Gardner, surrounded by family, cited a list of his accomplishments during his term — including promoting the move of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado as well as fossil fuels and renewable energy investment — and pledged to help Hickenlooper prepare for the Senate.

“He knows I will support him in this transition in any way I can,” Gardner said in a Facebook address after he called Hickenlooper to congratulate him. “Please understand, to all the people who supported our efforts tonight, that his success is Colorado’s success, and our nation and our state need him to succeed.”

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, chair of the Colorado GOP, issued a statement saying, “I want to thank Senator Cory Gardner for his decades of service to our state. Cory has consistently fought for opportunities to make life better for Coloradans by building a pathway for greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”

Gardner struggled to distinguish himself from the president. He touted a sweeping public lands bill he coauthored, a national suicide prevention hotline he launched and various federal goodies he secured for Colorado. But none were enough to escape from Trump’s shadow.

Democrats have won every statewide race since Gardner’s election, with the exception of a board of regents position in 2016.

The election caps a four-year push by Democrats in Colorado, a state that was once known for its status as an evenly divided partisan battleground but has become reliably Democratic under Trump.

Gardner, 46, has been something of the last of his kind, a relic of a barely red-leaning state in which rural and urban areas had equal sway.

Gardner noted on the campaign trail that he was the only statewide elected official not from the fast-growing Denver metropolitan area. Instead, the smooth-talking, sunny-demeanored senator hailed from the small town of Yuma in the state’s rural eastern plains and bemoaned how Hickenlooper catered too much to Denver by, for example, vowing to cut fossil fuel production.

Gardner’s vulnerability in the state was a magnet to more than a dozen Democrats who lined up to challenge him last year as the state’s most prominent member of their party, Hickenlooper, instead mounted a quixotic bid for the presidential nomination. Hickenlooper, who was notoriously uninterested in the mechanics of legislation while he was governor, had said repeatedly he didn’t want to be a senator.

But Washington Democrats saw the well-known former petroleum geologist-turned-brewpub-magnate as the safest bet against Gardner, a champion fundraiser and famously agile and on-message politician. Hickenlooper abandoned his presidential bid and cleared most of the Democratic field as Gardner’s challenger, easily winning the party primary.

Gardner hammered Hickenlooper for being found to have violated state ethics laws by taking a private plane and riding a limousine in Rome. He tried several other lines of attack, too — arguing Hickenlooper was too self-absorbed to represent the state well, had swung too far to the left and had it in for rural Colorado.

Hickenlooper ran what many Democrats saw as an uninspired campaign, notably devoid of his trademark quirky ads that in prior elections had included him skydiving despite his fear of heights and showering while fully clothed to wash negative ads off. Instead, Hickenlooper, 68, spoke generally of a need for “new blood” in Washington and repeatedly hit Gardner for the senator’s effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Waiting until Election Day to vote? Here’s what you need to know in Colorado

There is still time Tuesday to drop off your mail-in ballot, vote in person and even register to vote so you can cast a ballot. To make the process easier, here is what you need to know about voting on Election Day in Colorado.

First, a reminder that it’s too late to send mail-in ballots via the Postal Service, so visit a local ballot drop box or voting center to drop off your ballot.

Colorado is one of 21 states that allow Election Day voter registration. So if you haven’t already registered, you may do so at any of the 340-plus voting centers in the state through 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Here’s a quick checklist to see if you qualify to vote:

— Voter has resided in the state of Colorado for a minimum of 22 days

— Voter can provide at least one of the 16 accepted types of identification

— Voter is a U.S. citizen

— Voter is not serving a sentence for a felony conviction

I received my ballot in the mail but still haven’t mailed it back. What do I do?

If you have a ballot and it has been filled out, signed and dated, take it to the closest ballot drop box or vote center. Election officials won’t receive your ballot if you mail it in at this point.

I lost/misplaced my ballot. Can I still vote?

Yes, if you lost or misplaced your ballot you may request a new one in person at any polling location in the state. For those who never received a ballot in the first place, the same applies to you. Visit any in person polling place near you to cast your ballot.

What do I do if I have never registered before?

Again, in Colorado there are no deadlines for registering to vote. You may go to a vote center to register and vote at the same time. To find out more about voter registration or to check your registration status, visit Find My Voter Registration on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

What should I bring with me to the polling center?

The most important item to bring with you to a polling center is a form of ID such as a driver’s license or a U.S. passport. Anyone voting in person, registered or not, will need an ID. Here is a list of state-accepted forms of identification. Due to COVID-19, don’t forget to wear a mask to the poll and make sure to stand 6 feet away from other voters.

I don’t have an ID. Can I still vote?

Yes. In the state of Colorado, if you cannot provide any of the 16 accepted forms of identification, you will be issued a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are rare in Colorado because of the state’s same-day registration law.

Provisional ballots are not counted with traditional ballots. According to state officials, it can take up to — but no later than — nine days after an election. To find out if your provisional ballot was counted, refer to the receipt provided by an election judge and call your county clerk to ask.

For more information on provisional ballots visit the useful Provisional Ballot FAQ from the Secretary of State’s office.

This story is brought to you by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative, and Election SOS, a national program supporting journalists during the 2020 election. COLab is a nonprofit coalition of more than 90 Colorado newsrooms, including The Aspen Times, working together to better serve the public. Learn more at colabnews.co.

ELECTION DAY VOTING

In-person voting

Those who want to vote in person or register to vote on Tuesday have three options: the Aspen Jewish Community Center (435 W. Main St.), Snowmass Village Town Hall (130 Kearns Road) and the Basalt Library (14 Midland Ave.) All will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters must have a facemask, identification and practice 6-foot social distancing to be able to vote. To find out more about voter registration or to check your registration status, go to Find My Voter Registration on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

Drop-off locations

Voters can drop off ballots until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Ballot drop boxes, which feature video surveillance, are located in front of the Pitkin County Administration Building (530 E. Main St.), Snowmass Village Town Hall, Basalt Town Hall (101 Midland Ave.) and the Eagle County office building adjacent to Crown Mountain Park.

Pitkin County residents in the Crystal Valley and other areas downvalley will have two drop-off ballot locations on Election Day. Election judges will supervise ballot drop-off from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Redstone Church (0213 Redstone Blvd.) and at the Aspen Village Fire Station (31350 Highway 82).

In addition, any county ballot drop-off box can accept ballots from another county, according to Pitkin County Clerk and Record Janice Vos Caudill. Those will be forwarded to her office.

Resources

• Pitkin County information and sample ballot are available at pitkinvotes.com.

• Eagle County information for Basalt and El Jebel voters can be found at eaglecounty.us.

• To check the status of your ballot, go to colorado.ballottrax.net/voter.

• To check your voter registration information, go to govotecolorado.com.

• The state of Colorado Blue Book, which breaks down each issue, is mailed to voters but also can be found at leg.colorado.gov. It is available in Spanish and as an audio book.

Pitkin County Clerk: Too late to mail back ballots, use drop boxes or in-person voting until Nov. 3

With less than a week to go before the election, Pitkin County’s clerk said Wednesday it’s too late to mail in a ballot and that they should instead be dropped off at a number of locations county-wide.

Monday was the last day for voters to request a ballot by mail, so Janice Vos Caudill reverse-engineered the process and determined the opposite also was true.

“What I’m telling people is if we can’t mail (a ballot) to you, then in turn, it would make sense that you would probably not have time to send one back,” she said. “At this point in time, don’t mail your ballots back to us.”

Turnout, meanwhile, has topped more than 7,600 voters already in Pitkin County when both mail-in and early voting are included, Vos Caudill said. That’s the highest in county history for early voting, and more than 70% of the record turnout in 2016 of about 10,720 votes.

“I think (2020) will be a higher turnout than 2016,” Vos Caudill said. “I’m prepared for 12,000 (votes to be cast).”

Pitkin County currently has 13,844 active registered voters, meaning the Clerk’s Office has verified they still live at on-file addresses. The office sent out more than 13,400 ballots in early October, though voter rolls have increased since then, she said.

Ballots can be returned at drop boxes in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt up until 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Those boxes are monitored with video surveillance, while elections workers collect deposited ballots as many as three times a day, Vos Caudill said.

“It’s safe, it’s secure, it’s convenient,” she said of the drop boxes.

Ballots also can be dropped off at the Aspen Jewish Community Center (435 W. Main St.) between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. where early voting is taking place during the same hours until Monday. In addition, the center will be open for early voting Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Ballots can be dropped off in person at the Pitkin County Clerk’s Office at the county Administration Building on Main Street in Aspen.

Residents of Redstone or Aspen Village can drop off ballots in their neighborhoods on election day. Election judges from both parties will monitor the drop-off at the Redstone Church from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, while the Aspen Village Fire Station will function in the same manner Tuesday. The fire station also will serve as a ballot drop-off spot from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Pitkin, Eagle county clerks urge voters to take advantage of early voting

Voters in Pitkin and Eagle counties are being urged to return completed ballots by mail or drop boxes as soon as possible and avoid procrastinating and showing up in person at the polls on Election Day.

Despite the plea, Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien said at a recent meeting with Basalt Town Council she expects a surge Nov. 3.

“Especially for this election, I anticipate that Election Day return of ballots is going to be more than we can process on election night,” O’Brien said. “I worked our county election judges once until 2 or 3 in the morning to continue processing ballots and I said I’d never do that again. It becomes too late in the evening. Our judges get tired and that’s when mistakes have a greater potential to happen.

“So our plan is to stop counting at midnight, post our results, what we have and then let our hardworking judges go and get some sleep and bring them back between 9 and 10 (Wednesday) and resume counting any additional ballots.”

Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill said at the same meeting she also is expecting a high turnout.

In Pitkin County, 2,123 voters had taken advantage of early voting through Thursday, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. That is about 14% of the 14,847 registered voters.

In Eagle County, 3,667 ballots have already been cast, or about 10% of registered voters. In Garfield County, there have been 4,105 ballots turned in or slightly more than 10% of registered voters.

Vos Caudill said early voting is preferable to in-person voting as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

“We are encouraging everyone do your part, vote your mail ballot, return it in the mail if you prefer or drop it in a drop box,” she said.

Ballots were mailed to voters Oct. 9 and should have arrived in mailboxes by now. Anyone who is registered and did not receive a ballot yet via mail can call their clerk’s office.

Ballots returned by mail must be received by the proper clerk’s office on or before Election Day. Drop boxes are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. They are watched by surveillance cameras to discourage fraud.

There is a shared drop box for voters in Eagle and Pitkin counties outside of Basalt Town Hall. Eagle County also has a drop box at the Eagle County building by Crown Mountain Park.

Pitkin County has drop boxes at Snowmass Village Town Hall and outside the Pitkin County administrative building.

“They are safe, secure, convenient and they’re timely because the ballots come right back to our office,” Vos Caudill said.

The clerks said they expect activity to pick up as Election Day draws nearer. Voting centers in both counties open Monday providing another option.

In Pitkin County, the voter service and polling center for early voting will be at the Aspen Jewish Community Center (435 W. Main St.). It will be open 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m on Saturdays.

On Election Day, additional polling centers for Pitkin County will be at Snowmass Village Town Hall and Basalt Regional Library. Those two locations as well as the Aspen Jewish Center will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.

In the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County, the voting center will be at the El Jebel Clerk and Recorder’s Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays starting Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 31 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Complete voter information can be found at www.eaglecounty.us and www.pitkinvotes.com for Pitkin County.

“Anything you can do Election Day, you can start doing (Monday),” O’Brien said. “The only thing I can imagine is going to change in the vote centers is as we get closer to Election Day, voters are going to have to wait in longer lines.”

To track progress on how many early ballots have been submitted, go the Eagle County Clerk’s Facebook page. The Pitkin County Clerk’s office sends out a bulletin with election news each Friday afternoon.

Voters can verify that their early ballot was counted by going to the Colorado Secretary of State’s website at sos.state.co.us.

On Election Day, O’Brien and Vos Caudill said they will release vote counts three times — 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and “at the end of the night.”

Colorado law allows votes to be counted prior to Nov. 3 but the results cannot be released until 7 p.m. on Election Day. As soon as 7 p.m. hits, Vos Caudill said, the election judges will download the results for the ballots already counted. There will be an update at 9 p.m. and then the counties will either have final tallies later in the night or they will give an update with a notice that final ballots will be counted the next day.

Early voting is not only being touted as safer, it also will help get results quicker.

“I would reinforce that voters go in and vote early as opposed to waiting until Election Day,” Vos Caudill said.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Campaigns inspire local sign shenanigans

With a presidential campaign as intense as this year’s, vandalism to political yard signs in Aspen and Pitkin County have become part of the partisan clash.

So far this fall, Aspen police have taken four complaints about vandalized or stolen signs for President Donald Trump, all from the same Republican resident of Aspen’s west side.

“One sign was changed to say something that might offend people with delicate sensibilities,” Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said Friday.

Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies have received one report about vandalized or stolen Trump signs from Bob Jenkins, second vice-chair of Pitkin County Republicans.

Jenkins’ report — filed Sept. 23 — says he put up signs along Highway 82 at 6 p.m. and went back at 10 p.m. to find they’d been cut down.

“Jenkins was unsure of who cut the signs down, but suspected the culprit to be a part of the Pitkin County Democratic Committee,” according to a deputy’s report. “Jenkins said he wanted this report to be ‘in the paper’ as soon as possible and stressed that he would like Sheriff Joe DiSalvo to call the Pitkin County Democratic Committee to warn them from defacing their political signs.”

On Friday, Carol Jenkins, who was there when her husband reported the incident and is secretary of the local Republican Party, said he was misquoted in the report. What he told the deputy was that he wanted the chairs of both county parties to be called so they could remind their members that such actions are illegal and should not be tolerated.

“Bob did not say that,” Carol Jenkins said.

Howie Wallach, chair of the Pitkin County Democratic Party, said Friday he and other members of the local party apparatus had nothing to do with the theft or vandalization of local Republican Party signs. Further, he said the same thing thing is happening to local Democratic Party signs.

For example, 15 signs for former Vice President Joe Biden were stolen Thursday night or Friday morning from homes on Riverside Drive in Basalt, Wallach said. Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said his department had received reports Friday from six people in the same area.

“Our (personal yard) signs have been stolen twice,” Wallach said. “Others on the block have been stolen. I just replace them. I don’t report them to the police.”

Neither police agency has any suspects in the sign shenanigans, according to police reports.

Under Colorado law, misdemeanor charges of trespassing and criminal mischief can be filed against those responsible. People who deface signs also can be held liable for damages.

“There’s a lot of anger (and other emotion) in the public right now — it’s been a tumultuous year and it’s a scary time,” University of Colorado at Boulder political science professor Anand Sokhey told The Denver Post earlier this month. “Identity is being triggered (constantly) by our politics, which when combined with the pandemic and economic pressures is certainly a recipe for people taking actions that are linked to how they see themselves.”

jauslander@aspentimes.com