Jeffco election officials are continuing to suggest that registered voters sign up to be permanent mail voters and join the 58 percent of registered county residents — 152,038 as of June 30 — who have chosen that option.
Becoming a mail voter will help ease the Election Day burden at the polls and ensure that residents don’t feel rushed to vote, said Pam Anderson, Jeffco’s clerk and recorder. She added that many voters also have a hard time making it to their polling places on Election Day.
“A lot of people work in other counties, and it may be difficult to get back to a polling place,” Anderson said. She said that if the caucuses were any indication, voter turnout is going to be very high.
With the primary one month away, Anderson and Josh Liss, Jeffco’s deputy of elections, are hard at work with preparations.
The registration deadline for the Aug. 12 primary is July 14. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4.
One change voters will notice at the polls is that they have the option of using a paper ballot rather than just the electronic touch screen. The county leased some equipment to read the paper ballots, and Anderson said she’s “very excited about that.”
The county has also moved a couple of the polling places due to availability issues, but it hasn’t announced the changes yet.
There will also be a new way to track election results on election night, but rollout for that system is still a few weeks away.
These changes come on the heels of a turbulent political season that saw nearly all of Colorado counties lose certification for their voting machines in December 2007, only to have most of them recertified in the spring. Anderson, Liss and many other Colorado election officials spent an enormous amount of time working with legislators and voting machine vendors to keep the machines they had, claiming it would cost millions of dollars to replace equipment. They also urged legislators not to require new equipment and procedures at that late date, claiming it would have introduced more errors than it prevented.
“We really need to get off the policy roller-coaster,” Anderson said. New equipment is “extremely expensive,” and changing procedures and educating poll workers are complex, she added.
“It’s not fiscally responsible, either, to have constantly changing requirements,” Liss said.
The pair are hoping for long-term solutions to the questions facing legislators regarding voting equipment and procedures.
“We need some sustainability,” Anderson said, citing a flat to declining Jeffco budget as a reason not to buy new equipment every other election cycle.
Liss, Anderson and other elections officials will be visiting fairs and other gathering to display voting equipment and explain any changes, in what they jokingly refer to as a “traveling road show.”
The county is also looking for 1,000 election judges to serve on primary day and nearly 1,800 for the general election. Judges will be paid $130 to $140 per day, depending on duties, and must attend a training session. Visit www.votejeffco.com for more information.
A 2008 Voter Information Guide is available through the Jeffco clerk and recorder’s office. Visit www.votejeffco.com or call 303-271-8111 for more information.