Time to vote: Ballots arriving in the mail
October 14, 2014
EAGLE COUNTY — Election ballots this week are being put in the mail for about 25,000 Eagle County residents. Those voters have a lot to do.
Ballots will start arriving in residents' mailboxes in the next few days and can be returned by mail — at the cost of a regular stamp — or in person at Eagle County Clerk and Recorder offices in Eagle, Avon and El Jebel. Vail will have a ballot drop-off site, too.
It's a lot of work for Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton and her crew. But, Simonton said, mail-ballot elections are much, much, easier than polling-place elections. For instance, a polling-place election usually requires about 15 voting sites and as many as 120 election judges. It also requires the county's electronic voting machines to be trucked to those sites, set up, secured and then put back into trucks and returned to Eagle.
There are still about eight steps before a ballot is officially counted in a mail-ballot election, but only about 20 election judges are needed, and there's much less running about before and during Election Day.
Simonton added that mail-ballot elections can also be easier for voters, and votes can be counted more effectively.
With ballots arriving soon, here's a short list of what you need to know about the process and procedures.
Who can vote?
• Any state resident 18 years or older is eligible to vote. Registration is available through election day, but residents must have lived in the county for at least 22 days before the election.
• Voters can ask for replacement ballots or can vote electronically at the offices in Eagle, Avon or El Jebel. New ballots or voting in-person requires a Colorado driver's license or other form of identification.
• The U.S. Postal Service won't forward ballots, so people who know they won't be able to pick up their mail at their main post offices need to call the clerk's office to make other arrangements.
• One serious tip: Don't try to sign your ballot for a friend. That's a felony. Simonton said every election year between 60 and 80 people try it. People generally don't get prosecuted, but it's about at the top of things you don't want to do while voting.
What's on the ballot?
The short answer is: a lot.
• Residents are choosing two county commissioners and a county sheriff. One commissioner's seat — in District 3 — and the sheriff's position are "open," meaning there are no incumbents running.
Democrat Daric Harvey and Republican James van Beek are running for sheriff. The District 3 contest offers the choice between Republican Dick Mayne of Gypsum and Democrat Jeanne McQueeney of Eagle.
The District 2 commissioner's seat is now held by Democrat Kathy Chandler-Henry of Eagle, who was appointed to the seat last year when former commissioner Jon Stavney resigned to take the town manager's job in Eagle. An Edwards resident, Republican Courtney Holm, is also running for the District 2 seat. Holm ran against Stavney in 2012.
• Voters are also being asked to select candidates for coroner and surveyor. In the coroner's race, the incumbent, Kara Bettis, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican Sue Franciose. The surveyor's position is open, with Republican Ted Archibeque and independent candidate Kelly Miller seeking the office.
• Simonton is running unopposed for another term as clerk. County Assessor Mark Chapin is also running unopposed, as is County Treasurer Karen Sheaffer.
• Avon residents will be asked to choose four of 10 candidates for Town Council this year. That contest has only one incumbent, Matt Gennett, who was appointed to fill a vacancy earlier this year. Other candidates are Scott Prince, Megan Burch, Tom Beaver, Peter Buckley, Angelo Loria, Charlie Wolf, John Minervini, Sarah Smith Hymes and Tab Bonidy.
Voters throughout the county will vote for both a state representative and state senator.
• In House District 26, Chuck McConnell, a Republican, is again challenging Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush. Both are Steamboat Springs-area residents. The two candidates ran in 2012, when Mitsch Bush won the seat.
• An open seat that may determine which party controls the body, Senate District 5 has been one of the most hotly contested seats up for election this year. Vail resident and Democrat Kerry Donovan and Republican Don Suppes of Orchard City — a town in Delta County — are the major-party candidates.
• County residents will also vote for two congressional representatives. In the 3rd District, Republican incumbent Scott Tipton and Democrat Abel Tapia are the major-party candidates. In the 2nd District, incumbent Democrat Jared Polis and Republican George Leing are the only candidates.
• Voters will also this year vote for U.S. senator and Colorado governor. Other statewide races include state treasurer, secretary of state and attorney general.
Statewide ballot issues can often fill a page of space in Colorado. This year is a bit different, with a relative handful of statewide measures.
• One is Amendment 67, a return of the "personhood" measure voters rejected in 2012. That measure would define unborn children as "persons" and would amend the state's criminal code.
• Amendment 68 would authorize casino gambling at the Arapahoe Park horse racing track in the Denver area.
• Proposition 104 asks voters to make public the collective bargaining between school boards and teachers' unions.
• Proposition 105 would require food producers to label any products using "genetically modified organisms."
• Red Cliff and Basalt also have ballot issues this year, with Red Cliff asking voters for a property tax increase and a requirement to provide cable TV and high-speed Internet to residents. Basalt voters are being asked to approve a lodging tax and an additional sales tax on recreational marijuana.