About 25 percent of Carbondale voters have cast ballots | AspenTimes.com

About 25 percent of Carbondale voters have cast ballots

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Election officials estimate that more than 700 ballots, representing approximately a quarter of Carbondale’s registered voters, have been cast so far in the election concerning the Village at Crystal River shopping center project.

And in the hotly contested election, some activists supporting the project have raised questions about voter registrations.

Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico said she has been asked about how to deal with out-of-town voters establishing a temporary residence in town, registering to vote and casting a ballot in the VCR election. Alberico noted there is no evidence anyone has actually done this.

“I haven’t actually fielded any actual complaints,” said Alberico, who is in Colorado Springs this week for a conference of county clerks and recorders.

She said members of the Say YES to Carbondale advocacy group, which supports the VCR, have been “asking questions about how they could challenge votes … challenge someone’s ability to vote, if they are not a true resident.”

“I have not heard of any such activity,” said Allyn Harvey, a member of the Locals for Smarter Growth group that is opposing the VCR, when asked about the voter registration questions.

Efforts to contact the Say YES group for comment were not successful on Tuesday.

Alberico said that she has the authority to reject ballots for several different reasons, such as no signature on the ballot envelope, a discrepancy between the signature and county records, a voter submitting more than one ballot, or someone voting the ballot of a deceased person.

But a challenge to whether a voter actually lives at the address on that voter’s registration has to be done 60 days prior to the election, she said.

Residency-related challenges may still be filed after Election Day, she said, but it won’t affect the immediate outcome of the election.

“I’m going to count that ballot,” Alberico said.

Such challenges are turned over to the district attorney for prosecution, Alberico said, though she was uncertain how it might affect the election results.

Such a situation has not arisen in her tenure as county clerk, she said. “Hopefully it won’t come to that for this election.”

According to Alberico’s staff, there were 630 ballots received at the clerk’s office as of Tuesday afternoon.

At Carbondale Town Hall, Town Clerk Cathy Derby said she has not been opening the ballot box to check, since Alberico is running the election.

She estimated that another 70 or 80 ballots may be waiting in carbondale to be shipped to Alberico.

“Hardly anybody has come in today,” Derby said Tuesday. “I’m going to say 725 (total ballots) at this point.”

Given the town’s approximately 2,870 registered voters, Derby said the cast ballots equal a 25 percent turnout already.

Voters started casting ballots on Jan. 10 in the mail-in election on whether to ratify or reject a Nov. 1 decision by the town’s board of trustees approving the project.

The approval is for a zoning and development plan for the mixed-use project, which would be built on a 24-acre site west of Highway 133 and north of Main Street.

Ballots are due on Jan. 31. Ballots must be mailed or delivered to Carbondale Town Hall or the Garfield County Clerk in Glenwood Springs.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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