Voter registration deadline approaches for Pitkin County election
September 29, 2009
PITKIN COUNTY – Pitkin County voters won’t be heading to the polls in November. Their ballots will be in the mail.
Voters have until Oct. 5 to register for the Nov. 3 election, and the county Clerk and Recorder’s Office is urging voters who have moved to make sure the office knows their current address.
Ninety-percent of the counties in Colorado are conducting mail-in elections for this off-year election, according to Janice Vos Caudill, Pitkin County clerk and recorder, and more than half of the voters in the state have requested a mail-in ballot for all elections.
Pitkin County, though, hasn’t conducted an election strictly through the mail since 1993.
“It’s not new. It’s new in our county, but it’s routine in other counties,” she said.
Vos Caudill hopes the convenience of a mail-in ballot will result in better participation than the 7 to 8 percent of voters who cast ballots in 2007 – also an off-year election.
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“I’m anticipating the turnout will be more,” she said.
Ballots will be mailed out between Oct. 13 and 16. They are due back at the clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Voters can either mail them back or return them in person, but a ballot postmarked by the deadline doesn’t mean it will be received in time to be counted, Vos Caudill warned. The clerk’s office must have ballots in hand by the deadline.
“If anyone spoils a ballot or, oh, the dog ate it, they can come down and we’ll give them a new one,” she added.
The mail-only election means there will be no early voting at the clerk’s office, and no polling places on Election Day.
Election judges may begin opening returned ballots and putting them through the scanner on Oct. 19, though the clerk’s office cannot begin tallying votes until after 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. Having ballots already scanned, however, should mean results are available quickly on election night, Vos Caudill said.
County commissioners approved the mail-only approach this year, which Vos Caudill estimated will save the county about $16,000 in the cost of conducting the election.
Mail-only elections aren’t allowed for gubernatorial or presidential elections, so the 2010 election, when Coloradans will elect a governor, will mean voters can again head to the polls.
Pitkin County voters will only see a handful of questions on this fall’s ballot, though. Though the county’s sample ballot contains six questions, the ballots voters receive in the mail will contain only the questions they’re able to vote on – depending on where they live. Only city of Aspen voters, for example, will receive ballots containing Referendum 2A, asking if the city should continue to use Instant Runoff Voting for mayoral and council elections. Some Aspen voters will be polled on Referendum 5A, proposing the creation of a marketing district and a new 1 percent lodging tax.
Voters countywide will be polled on Referendum 1A, proposing an Energy Smart Local Improvement District. Aspen School District voters will be asked to pick from among four candidates for the School Board (three seats are up for election).
Referendum 4A will be posed to some midvalley voters; it seeks a one-year mill levy increase for the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District.
Voters in the Redstone Water and Sanitation District will see Referendum 5B on their ballot. It proposes a debt increase for the district.
Voters can find all they need to know online at http://www.aspenpitkin.com – click on 2009 Election under the County Spotlight section. An online form is available to register to vote or submit a change of address.
Look for the “Click here for Registered Voter Search” (above the box labeled “2009 Coordinated Election Information”) for a link to check your current registration information, including your mailing address. A voter can also track when their ballot is mailed and when it is received through this link, Vos Caudill said.