How to make your vote count in Eagle County |

How to make your vote count in Eagle County

Cheryl Bottomley
Eagle County, CO, Colorado

The end is near! The end of this election season, that is. Most of us, I’m sure, will be relieved. Whatever the outcome, at least it will be an end to the phone calls, e-mails and those awful, annoying commercials.

I’m probably one of the few who is excited, yes, but also dreading Election Day. Why? Because I am an election judge. And this historic Election Day promises to bring one of the biggest turnouts ever, with long lines. Surely Murphy’s Law will be in full force.

Having just completed a refresher course of election judge training, I thought I’d pass along a few tidbits voters should be aware of that might make things move along a little better for everyone on the big day.

First and foremost: Vote early! There are already lines forming at the early voting polling places. Imagine how it will be on Election Day! In Eagle County, you can vote early until Oct. 31 in any county clerk office in Avon, Eagle or El Jebel. It does not have to be where you live.

If you have moved since you last registered to vote and have not changed your address, it’s not too late. Do it today. Do it now. Having the right address in the poll book will save you, the election judges and the County Clerk’s Office a lot of headaches. If your address does not match what is in the poll book, you may have to fill out a provisional ballot. If you’re not sure, contact the County Clerk’s Office. Better to find out now then on Nov. 4.

Whenever and wherever you vote, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

– You must have an ID to vote. The ID can be a valid (not expired or suspended) Colorado driver’s license, Colorado ID card, U.S. passport, military ID, government employee ID, birth certificate, FAA pilot’s license, Medicare/Medicaid card, valid student ID from a Colorado college or university or even a current utility bill showing your name and address. Surely you can find one of those.

– If you do not have an ID with you, or if you are in the poll book under a different address or if you are not in the poll book but are sure you registered, you will have to vote a provisional ballot. There is an urban myth that provisional ballots are not counted. That is simply not true. If you don’t believe me, ask Teak Simonton and her staff, who will be burning the midnight oil after the election to make sure every legitimate provisional ballot is counted. It’s a hassle, for you, them and everyone standing in line behind you, so please have your ID and make sure your address is up to date.

– Remember, no electioneering within 100 feet of the polling place. So no campaign buttons, T-shirts, strategically held pamphlets or loud proclamations of how you plan to vote. You will be asked to hide it, take it off or tone it down.

No cell phones, cameras or recording devices can be used in the polling place. Period. Please turn ’em off.

– Be prepared to vote. By law, you are limited to 15 minutes. The election judges like to be lenient with that, but if the lines are long … It’s a long ballot with lots of complicated issues, so study your blue book and bring a cheat-sheet. If you didn’t get a blue book in the mail, find it online at

– You’ll have a choice of voting on the electronic voting machine or filling in a paper ballot. There’s been a lot in the news about voting machine nightmares in some states. We do not use those types of machines. The ones in Eagle County are reliable, accurate and easy to use. If you choose to vote paper ballot, please note it is a two-page ballot and you must turn in both pages, even if you only fill in one page. And it’s on both sides of the page, too. If you use the machine, make sure you see the flag waving at the end or your ballot has not been cast!

– Be patient and cooperative! You’ll be asked to fill out your name and address and sign a couple of things. Please just do it. Your election judges are just following the letter of the law to make sure every vote, including yours, is accounted for and all voting is accurate.

– It’s a wonderful learning experience to bring your children to the polls, but please keep them with you. There have been instances in the past when a child turned off a power strip to the voting machines, creating quite a complicated situation and slowing everything down.

– If you filled out a vote-by-mail ballot, you cannot drop it off at a polling place on election day. You must take it to one of the three county clerk offices in Avon, Eagle or El Jebel. If you received a mail-in ballot but for whatever reason choose to vote at the polls instead, you will need to vote on a provisional ballot. So, if you got a ballot by mail, just do it.

By the way, mail-in ballots must be received by the county clerk by 7 p.m. on Nov. 4. So, best to hand deliver it just to be sure.

Yup, that sure seems like a lot to remember (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things). But, it’s just a smidgen of what the election judges will be dealing with, and that’s nothing compared with what they’ll be doing at the County Clerk’s Office.

This is, by far, the most intense and interesting election I can ever remember. Be proud to vote, and make it count!

Cheryl Bottomley, of Gypsum, is an election judge.

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