Voting is a breeze in El Jebel | AspenTimes.com

Voting is a breeze in El Jebel

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesVoters stream into the Eagle County building as the polls open Tuesday morning in El Jebel. There was no line to cast a ballot at the polling place by late morning.
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EL JEBEL ” The problems that plagued midvalley voters at the El Jebel polling place two years ago were eliminated Tuesday morning.

Voters could walk up and vote without waiting in line as of 11 a.m. Ken Ransford, a poll watcher for the Democratic party, said there were 30 or so voters waiting to cast ballots when the polls opened at 7 a.m., otherwise there was no waiting in El Jebel during the morning. A steady stream of voters cast ballots throughout the morning.

Many people took advantage of early voting for fear of long lines on election day. Nevertheless, Eagle County Clerk Teak Simonton and her staff were prepared for crowds on Tuesday.

“This is a well-designed polling place at this point,” Harvey Branscomb, co-chair for the Eagle County Democratic party, said outside the El Jebel polling place. “Two years ago we had a major meltdown here.”

In the November 2006 election, there was a long wait to vote in El Jebel because election judges urged people to use the electronic voting machines and only offered paper ballots as a backup, according to Branscomb. Election judges this year asked voters their preference as they checked in. There were seven electronic voting machines and 23 stations where people could fill out a paper ballot, according to a poll watcher’s count.

“The opportunity to vote on paper should keep this line down to zero,” Branscomb said.

An independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization called Just Vote Colorado was conducting an informal survey with voters outside the polling place to learn if they voted on paper or electronically and if they had a “positive experience.” A surveyor for the organization reported it was 25-2 for a positive experience among people he talked to between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.

Simonton said more election judges were enlisted to help at El Jebel this year. That helped speed lines along. Two teachers and a dozen or so kids from the Solara preschool in El Jebel appeared at the polling place with a thank-you card for the election judges for their efforts. Alas, the card couldn’t be presented inside the voting room because it was construed as electioneering.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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