Colorado voters line up early to avoid lines on Tuesday
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
AURORA, Colo. ” Grim warnings about long lines on Election Day appear to have roused most Colorado voters to get their ballots in early.
More than half the state’s 2.6 million active voters cast their ballots by the end of the day Friday, either by mail or at early polling places. The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said 1,477,836 people have already voted, or 56 percent of all active voters.
Officials said 1,112,782 people voted by mail.
Early voting locations opened for the last time on Friday and voters waited an hour or more in some locations to avoid possibly longer lines on Tuesday.
In Denver, voters lined up outside the elections office and compared notes on their ballots, which includes 14 statewide proposals. More than 300 people waited for up to two hours at the Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs, The Gazette reported.
Arapahoe County clerk Nancy Doty doubled the number of voting machines at one of the county’s busiest early voting spots, CentrePoint Plaza, and also added four more at another location in Centennial. Even though the state now has 30,000 more active voters than in did in 2004, so many people have already voted she only expects between 50,000 and 70,000 people to vote on Tuesday. In 2004, 113,757 voted on Election Day.
Democrats have been keeping an eye on Arapahoe County, where the party now has a slight edge in registration and which will rely mostly on electronic voting machines. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., has called on Doty to have backup paper ballots at all the polls in case of problems with the machines or heavy turnout. Doty hasn’t gone that far but says voters can cast provisional ballots if there are any problems and she’ll deploy more paper ballots to any location that needs them.
Perlmutter said he doesn’t expect problems on Tuesday but just wants to be prepared.
“It’s trust but verify,” said Perlmutter, who stopped by CentrePoint Plaza along with Gov. Bill Ritter to greet voters.
Around him, about a dozen Barack Obama supporters passed out voter guides to people entering the building and gave out stickers to voters as they left. Some were with children in Halloween costumes. The only visible John McCain supporter was a man holding a sign.
Inside CentrePoint, a line of voters waiting to use one of the 24 voting machines wrapped down a long hallway and out the door. A security guard waited at the entrance, directing people who were dropping off mail-in ballots not to pass on through.
“I’m willing to stand in this line instead of that Nov. 4 line, I’ll tell you that,” said Tammy Fields, a teacher who waited with her 9-year-old daughter in line. She didn’t want to discuss who she would vote for.
Patrick Senoga, a native of Uganda, said he took some time off from his landscaping job on the unseasonably warm day to cast a ballot for Obama. It’s his second election and both times he has voted early.
Von Ellis, a retired Aurora street sweeper and a recent widower, said he didn’t have time to vote in the 2004 presidential race because his wife was ill. He thought it was important to vote but said he wasn’t very excited about any of the candidates. He said he would support John McCain but vote to send Democrats Mark Udall and Betsy Markey to represent Colorado in Congress.
Friday was also the deadline for voters to apply in person for a mail-in ballot. All ballots must be received ” not just postmarked ” by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Election officials are advising people who haven’t returned mail-in ballots yet to consider dropping their completed ballots off in person to the polls by Election Day.
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