Pitkin County mulls fall voting by mail
ASPEN – Citing budgetary constraints and growing voter acceptance of casting their ballots by mail, the Pitkin County clerk and recorder is recommending the county conduct this fall’s Nov. 1 election by mail.That means there would be no polling places where voters can cast their ballots on election day. Rather, voters would be required to either get their ballot back to the clerk by election day via the mail, or drop the ballot off at the clerk’s office in person.Mail-only elections are permitted in odd years in Colorado and occur regularly in other counties. In 2009, Pitkin County conducted its first mail-only election since 1993 and saw strong voter participation, according to county Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill, in a memo to county commissioners.Commissioners are scheduled to discuss polling places versus a mail-only election Tuesday, and could approve a resolution on first reading Wednesday directing Vos Caudill to conduct a mail election in November.If commissioners choose to hold the election with polling places, a $28,000 budget appropriation will be necessary. That expense isn’t currently budgeted; the clerk’s 2011 budget assumes the November election will be conducted by mail.According to Vos Caudill, nearly every county in the state is expected to conduct a mail-only election in November, given the lower cost of that approach and evidence of higher voter participation.In 2009, 35 percent of Pitkin County’s electors cast ballots by mail, compared with a 16 percent voter turnout in the 2007 election, which was conducted at polling places.In addition, the number of county voters who have requested permanent mail-in voter status has increased from 17 percent to 21 percent since the option first became available in 2008, she noted.Odd-year elections are often referred to as “coordinated elections” because various issues from different voting districts are placed on the county ballot by coordinating with the county clerk.The November ballot could feature a statewide tax initiative to raise funding for education, and a number of possible local issues. Pitkin County could place home-rule charter amendments, renewal of the Healthy Community Fund tax and a possible library question on the ballot. In addition, questions from the city of Aspen, Roaring Fork School District, Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District, Crown Mountain Recreation District and Redstone Water and Sanitation District are possible, Vos Caudill noted.The deadline for districts to notify the clerk of their intention to place a question on the ballot is July firstname.lastname@example.org
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