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Colson: Thoughts on the mechanics of a troubling election

Voters throughout Colorado can expect to receive their ballots for the Nov. 3 election in the mail soon (they’re scheduled to be mailed out Oct. 9), and should be ready to get those ballots in to the state as quickly as possible.

The urgency, I should point out, is entirely a result of the machinations of a certain political party to dampen voter participation, most critically right now by undermining our collective faith in the abilities of the U.S. Postal Service to get the blank mail-in ballots to the voters and then get the completed ballots back to the officials who will count them.

We here in Colorado are lucky in this regard. We’ve been mailing in our ballots for several elections now, and it has proven to be an effective way of managing things.



We, as a state, need not even listen to the hypocritical and cynical efforts of President Donald Trump and his cabal of advisers and Republican enablers to sow doubt in our entire electoral process by claiming that mail-in ballots are rife with, and ripe for, fraud and corruption.

These claims are demonstrably untrue. There has been no evidence anywhere, today or at any time in the recent past, that conducting an election by mail has produced widespread fraud and voter misconduct.




In fact, most credible reporting on the matter has repeatedly stressed that voter fraud is a nearly nonexistent problem wherever mail-in voting has been tried. The only really fraud, in my estimation, has been the amoral, even criminal attempts by the national GOP, along with their state-based counterparts and a small but vocal legion of ill-informed supporters, to suppress votes among the poor, people of color, women and students, most of whom tend to vote for Democrats.

So, do not heed the false narratives attacking the very idea of voting by mail — such narratives are based on lies aimed at convincing you that your vote will not be counted so you may as well not bother to cast a ballot at all.

If, due to unforeseen circumstances, you do not receive your ballot in the near future, it is up to you to contact your county clerk to find out why, and to correct whatever misinformation or mistake it is that may be at fault.

The easiest way to do so might be to log onto the state’s election websites, http://www.govotecolorado.gov, to make sure you are registered properly and that all your contact information is correct.

If that information is correct, and you got a ballot at your current address earlier this summer, to vote in the primaries, then that address is where the ballot for the Nov. 3 general election will be sent.

I know, I know, it is a complicated ballot, to be sure.

There are 21 presidential candidacies listed on the ballot, headed up by the candidates from the two major parties (Joe Biden and Kamala Harris versus Trump and Vice President Mike Pence), and to my way of thinking, voters can stop right there in recognition of how important it is that the Trump/Pence ticket be defeated and tossed out of government.

Following the presidential competition, we’re being asked to pick candidates for U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, various state offices, judgeships and local county commissioners.

On top of all that, we’re being asked to make a pick regarding a host of ballot questions — 11 of them statewide, and in Garfield County, where I live and vote, three local issues.

I concede that all of this is pretty intimidating (and gives some momentum to the idea of somehow limiting our state’s willingness to decide some pretty difficult questions by referendum rather than legislation), but it’s been like this for several years so we ought to be used to it to one degree or another.

As for concerns about getting a ballot to its destination, voters can choose to either mail it in or physically take it to a remote ballot box and drop it in yourself. The locations of these drop-boxes can be found on the counties’ websites or by calling the clerk’s office in your county of residence.

For myself, I’ve been voting in person for more than four decades, and I like it better than voting by mail. Living in a small town affords me the luxury of strolling down to town hall in Carbondale, standing in line (socially distanced, of course, in these COVID-19 times) and chatting with my neighbors (through the somewhat muffling effect of my mask) about life, the universe and everything.

But that’s probably not for everybody, and I urge you to feel safe and not at all anxious about putting your ballot in the mail, as long as you do it soon and don’t wait until the last minute. Remember, mail from this region typically goes to Grand Junction first before being sent back to its ultimate destination, which adds days to the mailing process.

This year, the postal service’s ability to deliver ballots will be tested as never before, but I’ve been reading story after story about how postal personnel around the country are striving to overcome whatever obstacles they encounter and feel certain they are up to the task at hand.

I choose to believe them, and were it not for my preference for in-person voting, I would not hesitate at some point real soon to drop my ballot into a mailbox and go about my day with confidence.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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