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RBC I The upcoming coordinated election on Tuesday marks the beginning of a major change in how Colorado will be conducting its elections; however, it is still not too late to vote by mail or in person at the voter service and polling centers in Meeker or Rangely.
With the passage of House Bill 1303 this spring, Colorado has joined several other states in a shift to mail-ballot elections.
The trend to vote by mail has increased in popularity over the past several years to the point that 74 percent of Colorado voters chose to vote by mail in the 2012 General Election. Rio Blanco County has followed suit, but at a slower pace.
Sixty-six percent of those who voted in Rio Blanco County voted by mail last year and 13 percent voted early, with only 21 percent of the voters appearing at the polling locations, according to Rio Blanco County Clerk Nancy R. Amick.
Other HB13-1303 changes include reducing the residency requirement from 30 days within the county to 22 days within the state, the activation of electors whose records were marked “inactive” due to the failure to vote and the ability to register to vote up to and including Election Day.
Voters in Rio Blanco County will not notice a significant change this year, as the county odd-year elections are typically conducted by mail. This has been a county practice beginning in 2007, resulting in a substantial savings in election costs.
Since 2010, the county has utilized the mail ballot option for primary elections as well.
As in past mail ballot elections, voters have the choice to surrender their mail ballot and vote in person in the clerk’s offices. The new law requires one voter service and polling center (VSPC) to be open for eight days for counties with less than 10,000 registered electors.
The 8-day VSPC is located in the Rio Blanco County Clerk’s office in Meeker and a second VSPC will open at the Western Annex on Nov. 4 and 5 in Rangely. Both offices will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday for voters to drop off their ballots, Amick said.
There were 3,934 ballots mailed to voters on Oct. 16 to their address on record. As of the close of business on Friday, 712 (18 percent) of the total mail ballots have been returned, she said.
If you haven’t received your ballot or if you have lost your ballot, please contact the county clerk’s office at (970) 878-9460 to obtain one. Ballots must be returned to the clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, which is Tuesday.
Voters will notice the change more in the 2014 General Election, as ballots will automatically be mailed to all active voters and the precinct polling places will be replaced with voter service and polling centers.
The new law will eliminate the current confusion to the public on whether an election will be conducted by mail or by polling place. Moving forward, it will be important to remember to update your residential and mailing addresses as changes are made.
An easy option for voters to make changes to their voter registration record is to use the state website: www.GoVoteColorado.com.
As with any new law, there will be procedural challenges to implement, but most clerks view mail ballot elections as a more-efficient, cost-effective and consistent way of collecting ballots.
This is “a better way to serve our voters,” Amick said.