Officials Taking Extra Steps, Asking for Your Help to Ensure Smooth Elections

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

With record voter turnout expected this November and one of the longest ballots in Colorado history, state and county election officials say it's more important than ever that things run smoothly.

Some Western Slope voters say looking at this year's ballot -- the longest in the Montrose and Mesa County history -- is enough to make their heads spin.

"It's a lot of material that needs to be digested," said Montrose voter Mike Brown.

That's why Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman is meeting with election officials in every county across the state, to discuss their preparations. Monday, he met with Montrose County officials.

More than 50 percent of voters in Montrose have signed up for a mail-in ballot -- something he would like to see in other counties across the state.

"Giving one the ability to deliberate in the comfort of their home, spending as much time as they want on the ballot as opposed to being in a voting booth, I think is a good way to go," said Coffman.

Montrose County officials say they have stepped up efforts to get more voters to use mail-in ballots, mostly to help cut down on lines at the polls.

"It really helps us save the time and also gives us a little bit more time to go over the information and give it some thought," said Brown, who turned in his mail-in ballot application Monday.

But that's not all they're doing to help make the voting process faster.

"We make sure that there are no people waiting in line for the electronic machines," said Fran Tipton-Long, Montrose County Clerk and Recorder. "If that's the case, we ask you to vote on paper."

Coffman says he encourages counties to use paper ballots in addition to electronic voting machines. He says in 2006, residents in Douglas County, which only uses voting machines, didn't finish voting until 1:00 in the morning. Although Mesa County only uses electronic devices at the polls, Coffman says officials are working hard to make sure residents there aren't voting into the next day.

"[Mesa County Clerk and Recorder] Janice Rich has made a positive move in terms of having more vote centers than she's had in previous elections to accommodate a greater voter turnout," said Coffman.

But officials say there's something you can do too.

"Have the sample ballot, fill it out, study the issues," said Coffman. "You'll get a blue book from the Colorado General Assembly that has a discussion on all the ballot initiatives."

"We just really advocate if you're going to vote on election day, to take the sample ballot, already have it studied, and know what your choice are going to be when you go out there," said Tipton-Long.

The deadline for mail-in ballot applications in Montrose County is October 28.


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