Vail Daily column: This year’s ballot a long one
Get your reading glasses ready and pour yourself a big cup of coffee when you receive this year’s ballot, as it will be among the longest we’ve ever prepared. In addition to the front page full of candidate races and judge retention questions, there will be state amendments and propositions, questions from various towns, as well as items from the school district, the library district and possibly the county.
State topics will include a health care single-payer system, repeal of servitude as punishment for persons convicted of crimes, the state minimum wage and small property tax exemptions. It may also include questions on oil and gas regulations, constitutional amendments, primary election changes, cigarette and tobacco taxes and medical aid in dying. The secretary of state is telling us to plan for a two-page ballot.
In early October there will be two documents sent to you to help you decide how to vote on local and state issues. The Blue Book comes from the state, providing the full context for each state level question including explanations, fiscal impacts, and summary comments for and against each measure. Locally, each district or municipality with a tax or debt question is required to accept comments regarding their proposal from interested parties until Sept. 23. Eagle County then sends a TABOR Notice to all county voters that details these local questions and includes summaries of all comments received.
Because different districts affect different voters, there will be nine different ballot styles. We combine the information from all ballots for publication in the Eagle Valley Enterprise, Vail Daily and Aspen Times. This year’s sample composite ballot and election information will be in newspapers on Thursday, Oct. 13. We will also have it posted on our website at http://www.eaglecounty.us/clerk no later than Sept. 26.
Starting in early September, election officials will work diligently to build each ballot style and to test various voting, counting and tabulation systems. Ballots go out to overseas and military voters on Sept. 24. All other ballots are mailed on or near Oct. 17 to addresses on file in our system and cannot be forwarded per state law. If receipt by mail is problematic or inconvenient, voters may pick up ballots at the Eagle County Clerk & Recorder’s Office beginning Sept. 26.
We’re expecting more than a 90 percent voter turnout this year, which will equate to around 25,000 ballots. This is a significant volume for a county election office of our size. Our entire staff is involved, and we are thankful for the help from many community election judges. In recent presidential elections, almost 40 percent, or 10,000, of these ballots arrived on Election Day. Each ballot envelope received is recorded, signature verified, opened by bi-partisan judges, scanned, uploaded to the tabulation system and ultimately results are reported on Election Night as close to 7 p.m. as possible. Results trickle in throughout the night given the remoteness of some ballot box locations, with updates provided as frequently as possible.
Signature mistakes on ballots must be corrected within eight days of the election, which is also the deadline for ballots returning from overseas. With oversight from representatives of both parties, we conduct a post-election audit hand count of a significant number of ballots to ensure our equipment tallied accurately. A recount is required if any vote outcome is less than 0.5 percent difference. Following these actions unofficial results will be available, with certification of the official results happening nine or 10 days after the election date.
Look for more information and details about the election in September and early October and as always, if you have any questions or concerns about elections, voter registration or any other Clerk & Recorder services contact Teak Simonton at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 970-328-8728.
Teak Simonton is the Eagle County clerk and recorder.