Ballots for the November election are being mailed to voters across the state on Tuesday. Some county clerks say this election will be more convenient for voters than past elections, thanks to a new state law. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.
House Bill 1303 was signed into law last spring. County clerks will put it into action for the first time next month. It’s meant to improve voter access by allowing same-day voter registration and expanding the pool of mail ballot recipients to all registered, active voters. Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill says the law makes voting more convenient.
"People are busy with families and events in their life, and so, I feel this will provide additional opportunity for individuals," she says.
There are other changes too. The early voting period is longer than in previous elections and so-called voting service centers are replacing precinct polling places on election day. So, if you accidentally show up at the wrong precinct, you won’t be turned away. Voters, no matter what precinct they belong to, can cast ballots at any one of the service centers. In Pitkin County, those centers will be set up at the Clerk and Recorder’s office in Aspen, Snowmass Town Hall and Grace Church in Emma.
With the changes, County Elections Manager Bill Mast says he expects voter turnout to increase.
"I think that when you make the voting experience more convenient for the voters, you get that ballot into their hands, whether that’s via mail ballot, or more early voting options, or expanding the vote center options where you can go to any vote center and vote, you’re going to see an increased turnout," he says.
Not everyone agrees. Back in May, when the measure was still being debated in the legislature, El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams weighed in. He told the Denver Post the measure makes vote fraud easy in Colorado by mandating that clerks provide ballots on Election Day, leaving no time to vet potential voters. He points to a situation in his county where a voter registration drive attempted to get three ballots for one man.
Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill is excited about the changes, especially considering most people vote by mail in Colorado. Still, she admits there are some unknowns.
"This is all new to us, we have no idea if people will lean towards using the mail ballot or if people will still continue to go to the polls, it’s all new to us and we’re preparing for everything."
In Pitkin County, mail ballot elections have only been held twice before in 2009 and 2011. In neighboring Garfield County, mail ballot elections have been held regularly since 1993, so fewer changes will be noticed there.
For more information on where and when to vote in Pitkin County in the November election, click here.
Garfield County voters can go here for more information on the November election.
In Eagle County, click here for additional information on voting.