Garfield County mails 15,000 ballots since October 12

Law offers tax relief to senior citizen property owners

October 25, 2010

While many voters will brave uncertain weather to visit polling places November 2, at least 60% of Garfield County registered voters will sit comfortably in their armchairs at home after work or a busy day. That’s because an increasing percentage of the electorate has chosen to vote by mail-in ballot.

October 26 is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot to be mailed, and October 29 is the deadline for registered voters to request a mail-in ballot in person.

Preparing about 15,000 ballots for this group of voters is a large undertaking. Nearly a dozen election judges applied address labels and tucked ballots into secrecy sleeves for an October 12 send off for mail-in ballots. They work in a secure location in the Garfield County Courthouse on a five week full-time election stint. Their work gives the community the ability to vote by mail-in ballot.

Plenty of ways to vote

Mailing is not the only way to submit a voted mail-in ballot. Completed ballots may be returned to the Garfield County Clerk’s office in the courthouse or to the branch clerk’s office in Rifle every day until Election Day during normal working hours. Ballot drop-off points are also located at the Carbondale Town Hall, New Castle Town Hall, Silt Town Hall or Parachute Town Hall during normal working hours from 8 am to 5 pm. Voters can also drop their voted ballots off on Election Day at any polling place in the county between 7 am and 7 pm.

Getting to know the election judges

The ten judges handling the election this year are the most the county has ever utilized. Six handled the mail-in ballot primary election in August, and the increase was needed because more voters are choosing to vote by mail.

Irene Friedman has worked as a polling place judge for many years. She says she is glad to do the five week stint each year helping prepare election materials. Nancy Smith served as a polling place judge for many years, and does logic and accuracy testing on the counting machines prior to the election season, and worked on the canvass board to certify election results.

Joan Troth was listening to a radio announcement in 1993 by then County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf and has worked every election since in preparation of ballots, the counting process and serving on the provisional board. Emilie Somerville is working her first season in Garfield County elections, having heard of the need for judges from Troth.

Also assisting this year is Rhonda Coombs, who says she is not sure how many years she has served as an election judge, but started with working in the polling places and this is the first year she has worked in mail-in ballot preparation work. Lois Wilmoth said she got involved also due to encouragement from Joan Troth, after they had retired from teaching at Basalt High School (BHS). She said she is amazed at the complexity of the election process and the details it takes to manage such a large ballot mailing. Charlotte Hood also taught at BHS, and so heard about the opportunity from Troth, and said although she found working at the polls a thankless job, she likes the meticulous record-keeping to ensure accuracy at the ballot preparation level.

Ruth Barber has worked the elections a couple of times, and said when they asked her at the senior center to volunteer, she said “sure!” Roseanne Shelton said she has worked elections for eight years, and was encouraged to get started by current Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico’s mother. Flora Lopez says she knows a lot of the ladies in the clerk’s office and finds it something fun to do in her retirement.

garfield county election judges
Ten election judges are working five weeks this fall preparing ballots requested by mail. From left front: Rhonda Coombs, Nancy Smith, Charlotte Hood, Ruth Barber, Roseanna Shelton, Flora Lopez.

Irene Friedman sums it all up with this statement, “We enjoy being a part of the election process, but just would like people to know that a lot of paper cuts and broken nails went into getting people their ballots!”

Voting tips to remember:

  • Do not use pencil or felt tip markers
  • You don’t have to vote every race or question, it is not required for each question to have a decision by each voter
  • Replacement ballots may be requested with a phone call to the Clerk’s office at 384-3700 #2
  • Postmarks do not count. Ballots need to be physically residing within the walls of the clerk’s office by November 2 to be counted in the election, so postmarking it November 1 or 2 may not ensure actual timely delivery.
  • Use the drop-off locations after Friday, October 29 to return voted ballots.