Ballots sent to underage voters in city election
For 57 Aspen teenagers who have received mail-in ballots, their vote won’t count in the March 5 election, but at least they exercised their non-right to participate in democracy.
Personnel from the Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, which is the custodian of voter registration information, sent the city of Aspen a list that contained the names of 16- and 17- year-old registered voters but didn’t specify their ages.
It is legal for those at that age to register as voters, but not to vote. There is a push by a group called Inspire Colorado to get teenagers pre-registered to vote in an effort to get better turnout.
They are classified under “confidential voters,” who are mostly individuals who pay $5 to have their names removed from public reports so they don’t get contacted by candidates or canvassers.
There are 203 confidential voters in Pitkin County and 76 are in the city. Of those, 52 are underage to vote.
Deputy City Clerk Nicole Henning requested the names of Aspen registered voters via a spreadsheet to use to print the ballots before they were mailed out.
The list included confidential voters but the underage names were not filtered before they were given to the city.
Henning said she received an angry voicemail Thursday from a parent who wanted to know why her 16-year-old received a ballot.
County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill said her office received the same complaint.
She told The Aspen Times on Friday that her staff didn’t ask what the city was using the list for and that’s why the underage names were not removed.
“Should we have asked? Yes,” Vos Caudill said. “We feel bad.”
Henning said she specifically told county staffers that the voter list request was for the printer to print the ballots for the March 5 election.
Ballots were mailed out Feb. 11 and are now trickling into the City Clerk’s Office. Henning said about 40 ballots have been returned.
City Attorney Jim True said the city is sending letters to the underage voters who received ballots explaining the error.
He added that Aspen City Council also will be advised of the situation.
Henning said the names of the underage voters are in the city’s database and when and if their ballots come in, they will be flagged and removed from the count.
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