Ballots hit Pitkin County mailboxes next week
Ballots for the Nov. 3 election will begin showing up in all Colorado registered voters’ mailboxes toward the middle of next week, Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill said Thursday.
More than 13,000 ballots for Pitkin County registered voters are going out in the mail this year, which is a record, she said.
“That’s more than we ever have (sent out) historically,” Vos Caudill said.
She estimated she’s sending out about 500 more ballots this year, possibly because second homeowners have decided to relocate here permanently or possibly just because people are more aware of registering to vote in this presidential election.
It also may be that Coloradans vote, Vos Caudill said. The state ranks second in highest voter turnout in the country (behind Minnesota) and third in the highest percentage of potential registered voters actually registered to vote, she said.
And a majority of those registered to vote — a vast majority in Pitkin County — send back the mail-in ballots, whether by regular mail or by using one of three drop boxes in the upper Roaring Fork Valley.
The Pitkin County Clerk’s Office sent out about 12,800 ballots in 2016 and 2018 and received 88% of votes from those ballots in 2016 and 90% in 2018, Vos Caudill said. In other words, 12% of those who voted in 2016 did so in person, while that figure was 10% in 2018.
Between 1% and 2% of mailed-in ballots are rejected for missing signatures, signature discrepancies or other technical issues, she said.
Vos Caudill advised voters who plan to use the mail to send back their ballots to do so with at least a week remaining before Election Day on Nov. 3. That will provide ample time for the ballot to arrive at the Pitkin County Administration Building to be counted.
A better idea might be to use one of three drop boxes in the county.
“They’re convenient, they’re secure and (ballots) go directly to our office,” she said. “Election judges pick them up and take them to our office.”
The drop boxes, which feature video surveillance, are located in front of the Pitkin County Administration Building at 530 E. Main St., as well as at Snowmass Village Town Hall and Basalt Town Hall. Even though Basalt Town Hall is technically located just over the county line in Eagle County, Pitkin County officials have cleared the drop box location with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, Vos Caudill said.
Voters can drop off ballots until 7 p.m. on Election Day. In addition, any county ballot drop-off box can accept ballots from another county, she said. For example, Pitkin County residents at school in Boulder or other locations in the state can drop their ballots in whatever county drop box is available and it will be forwarded to Pitkin County, Vos Caudill said.
Pitkin County residents in the Crystal Valley and other areas downvalley of Aspen and Snowmass Village will have two drop-off ballot locations to utilize on Election Day. Election judges will supervise ballot drop-off from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Redstone Church and at the Aspen Village Fire Station, Vos Caudill said. The fire station also will accept ballots Nov. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Early in-person voting begins Oct. 19 at the Aspen Jewish Community Center, 435 W. Main St., and will be available Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until Nov. 2, she said. Early voting also will occur two Saturdays, Oct. 24 and 31, at the same location from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Clerk’s Office also is allowed to begin counting mailed-in and dropped off ballots Oct. 19, Vos Caudill said.
Those who want to vote in person on Election Day will have three polling options: the Aspen Jewish Community Center, Snowmass Village Town Hall and the Basalt Library. 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, she said.
On Election Night, Vos Caudill and her staff will update poll results beginning with an initial tally of early and mailed-in ballots at 7 p.m. Another update will occur at 9 p.m., while a final county will be posted at the end of the night, she said. Go to Pitkinvotes.com and click on the link to the Secretary of State’s election reporting site to follow the count.
While President Donald Trump has urged his supporters to turn out at polling places and act as “poll watchers,” Vos Caudill said the two political parties and sometimes a candidate usually arrange for poll watchers. She said she’s working with local police in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt in case of trouble.
On Thursday, Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said officers will respond to any threatening situations on Election Day, though he didn’t expect any.
“Aspen’s not that kind of place, come on,” Linn said.
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The Aspen City Clerk’s Office is looking toward the next, next election in 2021 with two council seats and a mayoral race up for a decision, and an added focus on coronavirus safety when early voting begins in February.