Vail Daily column: Election season is upon us again
Greetings Eagle County voters; election season is upon us again! On Oct. 14, we will be mailing approximately 26,000 ballots for the Nov. 3 election. The issues and races on the ballot you receive will be specific to your residential address, so please make sure you contact us if you have moved. You can get in trouble — a Class 5 felony! — if you attempt to vote in a place where you do not reside at least half of the calendar year. So if you’re not sure where you’re registered, then you can find out at http://www.govotecolorado.com or by calling us.
Election processes and requirements are designed to assure accuracy and precision, and are based on hundreds of pages of state laws and secretary of state rules. In Eagle County, we are very vigilant about these requirements as we are accountable to our voters, political watchers, political parties, candidates, participating political subdivisions and the secretary of state. We work extremely hard to make sure everyone who should be able to and wants to vote can do so.
Election rules can be complex and certain voter mistakes are common each election. For example, signing a ballot affidavit for another voter is not a good idea, even if you are just trying to be helpful. For every election, we use a bipartisan team of election judges who compare the signature on every ballot received to the signatures we have on record in our voter registration system. If you’ve signed another’s ballot, our signature verifiers will temporarily reject your ballot packet, and you will receive a letter requesting verification in order for us to be able to count your ballot. If we don’t hear from you after this letter is generated, we are mandated by law to inform to the district attorney, who will contact you, and he won’t be calling to just say hi. You could be fined! So please do not try to “help” anyone by signing their ballot.
As always, using only blue or black ballpoint pens, and filling in the rectangles without using checkmarks or “x” is really important. Request a replacement ballot if you need to correct a vote, as whiteout will not be read by our scanners. Similarly, red ink, highlighters and pencils are not recognized by our scanners either. Bi-partisan teams must re-mark each of these types of ballots for the scanner to read, which just slows down the process and makes us less efficient.
We try to get election results out to the public as quickly as possible and usually do so by election evening. On Election Day, we have teams of runners traveling around the county, picking up batches of ballots in sealed and secured containers and then returning them to the election offices. At 7 p.m., our teams are waiting at each location for the final transport. The Vail and El Jebel locations are some distance from the main office, and we usually receive the remote ballots no later than 8:30 p.m. Once we receive these ballots, they are processed and signature verified through our voter registration system, sealed and delivered to the counting room, quantities are confirmed, ballot packets opened carefully by separating names from ballots before removal from the secrecy sleeves, scanned into the voting software, reviewed by teams for unclear votes, loaded onto memory cards and finally uploaded into the tabulation system. Depending on the quantity of ballots received from these remote locations, it can take hours to complete the tabulation of everything and post the night’s final results. Results are available on Twitter @ECClerk and on our website, http://www.eaglecounty.us.
And finally, the reason our results are unofficial on election night is because overseas citizens, military and voters with signature discrepancies have up to eight days post-election to return their ballots. We must complete the post-election hand count audit and canvass, or election review, before finally certifying each election. Typically, Eagle County certifies the final election results about 10 days after each election.
Look for more specific information about the election in this newspaper in the coming weeks, and as always, let us know if you have comments, concerns or questions.
Teak Simonton is the Eagle County clerk and recorder.