Officials urge Coloradans to vote early

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By AJ Vicens

County commissioners, county clerks and even the governor are urging people to either vote by mail or vote early this year, citing an unusually long ballot and a projected record turnout.

"We've had a lot of activity here in the last couple of weeks from both sides of the presidential campaign, with both Sen. Obama and Gov. Palin visiting Colorado," Gov. Bill Ritter said at a news conference Sept. 16. He said that Colorado is one of the few swing states in the national election. "It is important as a swing state that every vote count."

Ritter said early voting and mail voting will ease the burden on county clerks across the state.

Jefferson County Commissioner Kathy Hartman spoke along with the governor, echoing the call for voters to request a mail ballot by Oct. 28, or to vote early between Oct. 20 and Oct. 31.

"This election is about more than who is the next president," Hartman said. "This election has the longest ballot in Colorado since 1912. Most counties will see 24 national and state candidates, 18 statewide ballot issues, and numerous local candidates and ballot issues."

"We are expecting a record voter turnout," Hartman said. "Statewide, we have record number of voters registering."

Jefferson County has 356,608 registered voters, with an average of 1,525 registering every week. Jeffco's voter turnout is usually above 90 percent, so there will be lines on voting day.

"One of the best-kept secrets in Colorado is early voting," Hartman said. "There is very low turnout in the first week of early voting. So why wait in line if you don't have to?"

Nancy Amick, president of the Colorado County Clerks Association, urged people to verify they're registered to vote at www.govotecolorado.com, and said people can call their local county clerk's office to check early voting dates, times and locations. Jeffco voters can get all the information at www.votejeffco.com, or by calling 303-271-8111.

Ritter closed his remarks by taking a subtle jab at Florida, the state that caused so many problems in deciding which candidate won the presidency in 2004.

"We can do ourselves proud by doing as much as we can to vote early and vote by mail," Ritter said. "Those are the two tools we have to ensure that on Nov. 4 things go smoothly and we play the role we should play in the national election."

Voters can verify registration at www.govotecolorado.com.