Pitkin, Eagle county clerks urge voters to take advantage of early voting
Voters in Pitkin and Eagle counties are being urged to return completed ballots by mail or drop boxes as soon as possible and avoid procrastinating and showing up in person at the polls on Election Day.
Despite the plea, Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien said at a recent meeting with Basalt Town Council she expects a surge Nov. 3.
“Especially for this election, I anticipate that Election Day return of ballots is going to be more than we can process on election night,” O’Brien said. “I worked our county election judges once until 2 or 3 in the morning to continue processing ballots and I said I’d never do that again. It becomes too late in the evening. Our judges get tired and that’s when mistakes have a greater potential to happen.
“So our plan is to stop counting at midnight, post our results, what we have and then let our hardworking judges go and get some sleep and bring them back between 9 and 10 (Wednesday) and resume counting any additional ballots.”
Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill said at the same meeting she also is expecting a high turnout.
In Pitkin County, 2,123 voters had taken advantage of early voting through Thursday, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. That is about 14% of the 14,847 registered voters.
In Eagle County, 3,667 ballots have already been cast, or about 10% of registered voters. In Garfield County, there have been 4,105 ballots turned in or slightly more than 10% of registered voters.
Vos Caudill said early voting is preferable to in-person voting as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.
“We are encouraging everyone do your part, vote your mail ballot, return it in the mail if you prefer or drop it in a drop box,” she said.
Ballots were mailed to voters Oct. 9 and should have arrived in mailboxes by now. Anyone who is registered and did not receive a ballot yet via mail can call their clerk’s office.
Ballots returned by mail must be received by the proper clerk’s office on or before Election Day. Drop boxes are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. They are watched by surveillance cameras to discourage fraud.
There is a shared drop box for voters in Eagle and Pitkin counties outside of Basalt Town Hall. Eagle County also has a drop box at the Eagle County building by Crown Mountain Park.
Pitkin County has drop boxes at Snowmass Village Town Hall and outside the Pitkin County administrative building.
“They are safe, secure, convenient and they’re timely because the ballots come right back to our office,” Vos Caudill said.
The clerks said they expect activity to pick up as Election Day draws nearer. Voting centers in both counties open Monday providing another option.
In Pitkin County, the voter service and polling center for early voting will be at the Aspen Jewish Community Center (435 W. Main St.). It will be open 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m on Saturdays.
On Election Day, additional polling centers for Pitkin County will be at Snowmass Village Town Hall and Basalt Regional Library. Those two locations as well as the Aspen Jewish Center will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.
In the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County, the voting center will be at the El Jebel Clerk and Recorder’s Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays starting Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 31 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.
“Anything you can do Election Day, you can start doing (Monday),” O’Brien said. “The only thing I can imagine is going to change in the vote centers is as we get closer to Election Day, voters are going to have to wait in longer lines.”
To track progress on how many early ballots have been submitted, go the Eagle County Clerk’s Facebook page. The Pitkin County Clerk’s office sends out a bulletin with election news each Friday afternoon.
Voters can verify that their early ballot was counted by going to the Colorado Secretary of State’s website at sos.state.co.us.
On Election Day, O’Brien and Vos Caudill said they will release vote counts three times — 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and “at the end of the night.”
Colorado law allows votes to be counted prior to Nov. 3 but the results cannot be released until 7 p.m. on Election Day. As soon as 7 p.m. hits, Vos Caudill said, the election judges will download the results for the ballots already counted. There will be an update at 9 p.m. and then the counties will either have final tallies later in the night or they will give an update with a notice that final ballots will be counted the next day.
Early voting is not only being touted as safer, it also will help get results quicker.
“I would reinforce that voters go in and vote early as opposed to waiting until Election Day,” Vos Caudill said.
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.