Clock ticking on home-rule style government |

Clock ticking on home-rule style government

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series about the Eagle County home-rule ballot question. The second installment, dealing with the issues surrounding the home-rule question, will be published in the April 20 edition of The Aspen Times.EAGLE COUNTY Some Eagle County voters living in the Roaring Fork Valley may have been disenfranchised, politically speaking, without even knowing it.At the same time, the clock is ticking on the question of whether county voters will approve a proposed home rule charter, in an election that is being conducted entirely by mail.Voters who want to have a say in that election, but haven’t yet gotten their ballots in the mail, have a short window of opportunity to make sure their vote counts.Eagle County is asking the electorate for the second time in six months whether the county should switch to a home-rule style of government, which would boost the number of county commissioners to five from the current three. State law allows proponents of a home rule charter to put the question to voters twice within a year.The charter, if approved, would require redistricting of the county, and one of the five new districts would be in the Roaring Fork Valley. Additionally, the charter would give Eagle County voters the right, for the first time, to put issues and questions on the ballot by referendum or initiative, and would retain partisan political affiliations as a basic aspect of the county’s political life.The last time this question came before Eagle County voters, in November 2006, it was defeated by about 800 votes in an election that was conducted both by mail and at the polls. According to news reports, nearly 1,500 county voters who cast ballots in the election did not vote on the home-rule question, which was one of a long list of candidates and questions.This election is taking place entirely by mail, and residents throughout the county should already have received their ballots in the mail.According to the county’s chief deputy clerk, Pat Magdziuk, there are about 16,600 active voters and 8,600 inactive voters on the county’s election rolls.She said that, following the November 2006 election, the county sent out “continuation cards” to some 9,400 voters who were listed as eligible but did not cast ballots in that election. Between 4,000 and 5,000 of those cards were returned, either requesting that the voters names be kept on the rolls or that they be stricken for any of a number of reasons.The question is whether or not, embedded within the remaining list of 4,000 to 5,000 names, are voters who did not return their cards, are still eligible to vote but inadvertently did not contact the county.Magdziuk urged any county residents who believe they are eligible to vote but have not yet received their ballots in the mail to call her office at (800) 225-6136, ext. 8726, to have a ballot mailed to them.She said the last day ballots can be mailed out by the county is April 24. After that, voters can go into any Eagle County Clerk’s office, including at the Eagle County Community Center at El Jebel, and request a ballot until the county’s election day, May 1.All ballots must be back in the clerk’s office by 7 p.m. May 1.

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