Just days away from the Nov. 7 Election Day, the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office reported the elections process is running smoothly, but voter turnout is just over half of what it was during the 2021 coordinated election at the same time.
“We had a little bit of a state system issue when we were starting our mail ballot processing yesterday, but they got that fixed. We are totally up to date with our processing,” said Ingrid Grueter, Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder. “We got in from drop boxes this morning about 140 more ballots, which we’ll be processing today.”
According to the state of Colorado, Pitkin County had 13,385 active, registered voters in 2022. The county sent mail ballots out to active voters in early October. She said 2,354 ballots have been either mailed back or dropped in a ballot box, 33 rejects for signature or I.D. discrepencies, 31 ballots cast by early in-person voters, and 430 ballots returned to the clerk’s office for an inaccurate mailing address.
“We are, at this point, in early voting and in the lead up to the election,” she said. “(We’re at) only about 60% of ballots received of what we got in the 2021 coordinated election.”
Grueter said she and others speculated that maybe because this cycle’s ballot has fewer state issues and no county or city issues, though there are still a few days left before election day. In total, she estimated about 5,000 ballots were cast in the 2021 Coordinated Election.
If a voter needs to cure their ballot by verifying their signature or I.D., they have until eight days after the election, Nov. 15, to do so by contacting the clerk’s office.
Coordinated elections usually draw low turnout, so the clerk’s office brings on a tight roster of election judges to assist with the election process. Grueter said this election has about 30 election judges this cycle and recruiting them was not a challenge.
Mandated by state statute, the Clerk and Recorder’s Office recruits its election judges from a list of interested people provided by local Democratic and Republican parties. Grueter said that her office dismissed one election judge last year for partisan language and behavior, but apart from that blip, her office has seen minimal disruption.
“The rest of them work great together – they make friendships, they understand how the system works,” she said. “And to actually work as an election judge of the best things to show you how safe it is and all the hoops we jump through to make sure that (elections are) safe and secure and anonymous and all that.”
She estimated that about three-quarters of their election judges are party affiliated, while one-quarter are unaffiliated. In Pitkin County, about 52% of registered voters are unaffiliated, 34% registered Democrats, and 13% registered Republicans, with the rest spread amongst smaller parties.
While election judge recruitment has gone smoothly for Pitkin County so far, Grueter said that her office is already thinking about 2024. After the threats on election staff and partisan extremism witnessed nationwide in the 2020 General Election and 2022 Midterm Election, Pitkin County is making some adjustments.
Mainly, they plan to move their in-person polling place to the Aspen Police Department’s community room.
“This election, in person, is in our county offices, but that room is not large enough for the kind of turnout we have in the bigger elections,” Grueter said. “And we have historically used the Jewish Center, but with the whole worldwide geopolitical situation, we weren’t sure if that was a great idea. That’s only one of the reasons. The other reason is logistically – it’s going to be way easier to have our presidential primary next door (to the county building) than across town.”
If a voter never received or misplaced their mail ballot, there is still time to get a replacement ballot at the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Office, open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday for replacement ballot pickup and early voting.
Election Day is 7 a.m-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, with the sole polling place at 530 E. Main Street.