County Corner, October 24, 2013

By Roger BakerGilpin County

Ever since the much-debated 2000 presidential election and the subsequent passage of the Help America Vote Act, it seems like every election operates under a new set of rules, and this year in Gilpin County is no exception.
By Colorado law, henceforth every Gilpin County election will be a mail ballot election—though with a lot of additional options. All registered voters—active or inactive—should have received mail ballots by now; if you haven’t, contact the Clerk & Recorder’s Office at 303-582-5321 during regular business hours.
The mail ballots themselves aren’t terribly tricky, though it’s easy to miss the space on the back on the envelope where the voter’s signature is required; don’t forget to put adequate postage on the ballot envelope.
But if you really, really don’t like mail ballots, you can come to the Courthouse in Central City starting Monday, October 28th, and vote the “old fashioned” way, either with a paper ballot or using one of the (old fashioned?) electronic machines. But you have to surrender your mail ballot to be allowed to vote either way.
You can also drop off your mail ballot at the Courthouse; all that will be part of the new service we are providing as the “Voter Services and Polling Center.” Few people still remember precinct voting, but this new method has even replaced the Vote Centers that the County had used the past few years. All of this will be during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from October 28th through November 1st.
The Courthouse will also be open as the VSPC on Saturday, November 2nd, from 8 until noon, and then again on Monday, November 4th from 8 to 5. Tuesday, November 5th—what we used to call Election Day—will still be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but it shouldn’t be very busy. And again, even if you want to vote in person, you still need to bring the mail ballot you received and surrender it.
The use of the Courthouse as the VSPC the week before the election has some bearing on things we might not normally think about. Since the Courthouse is, essentially, functioning as a polling place, the usual restrictions on campaigning within 100 feet apply. Even employees who have bumper stickers in support of a particular ballot measure, for example, will have to park across the street in the Teller House lot. And of course we can’t allow open “electioneering” in the Courthouse itself.
All this is aside from the changes to voter registration procedures; October 28th, the first day the VSPC will be open, is coincidentally the last day to register online at govotecolorado.com. But new voters can actually register to vote and vote on the same day, as long as they have lived in Gilpin County for at least 22 days before the election.
All these changes make things challenging for Clerk & Recorder Colleen Stewart and her staff, but they have all worked hard to stay current with the latest requirements; in fact, if you have any questions about any of these procedures, it’s always a good idea to call the office at 303-582-5321.
But most importantly, vote!

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