Basalt officials urge residents to get their ballots turned in

Basalt residents are urged to use the ballot drop box outside of Basalt Town Hall for Tuesday's election. The drop box is available 24/7.
Aspen Times file

Basalt town government officials are urging voters to submit their ballots as soon as possible rather than wait until the last minute.

The best way to make sure a ballot is counted is to return it to the drop box on the north side of Town Hall, off of Midland Spur. The drop box is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. All ballots must be received by Town Clerk Pam Schilling by 7 p.m. Tuesday. At this point, ballots will not reach her in time by mail.

The town’s vendor mailed 2,538 ballots March 16. Schilling said 512 ballots were returned as of April 1.

So far, the turnout is slightly less than half of the turnout in the 2016 election that featured a hotly contested mayoral race. In that race, there were 1,099 ballots cast.

Schilling wants people with questions about ballots to call her as soon as possible.

“If people haven’t received their ballot or if they have any questions, they should call as soon as possible and avoid trying to do anything last minute on Election Day,” she said. She can be reached at 970-927-4701.

Voting will be possible at Town Hall on Tuesday, but it won’t be convenient for anyone involved. Public access to all town facilities is restricted because of the stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“On Election Day, only one person will be allowed into Town Hall to vote at a time,” said a notice from the town government. “Please return your mail ballot and avoid Town Hall.”

Basalt’s municipal election features a race for mayor and three council seats. Six candidates are running at-large for the council seats. They are Glenn Drummond, Tiffany Haddad, Elyse Hottel, David Knight, Jennifer Riffle and Kirk “Dieter” Schindler.

Riffle is the only incumbent seeking to return for a four-year term. Current council members Auden Schendler and Katie Schwoerer aren’t seeking re-election.

In the mayoral race, incumbent Jacque Whitsitt cannot run again because of term limits. The three candidates seeking the post are Rob Leavitt, Bill Infante and Bill Kane.

The town is using an instant runoff voting procedure for the first time. It was approved for mayoral races as part of the 2002 Home Rule Charter but never employed because there has never been more than two candidates until this year. In instant runoff voting, voters will be asked to rank the candidates by preference. If no candidate receives 50% plus one of the votes in the first tally, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The ballots for that candidate will be examined for the second preferences. They will be assigned to the other candidates to determine a winner.

Schilling said previously that election judges will count ballots for the mayoral race by hand. The votes in the council races will be counted by machine.

The election winners are scheduled to be sworn in April 28.