GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Election Day is here, and while 60 percent of Garfield County voters have already cast their ballot, more than 160 people are working long hours today to run six polling places from Battlement Mesa to Carbondale.
Garfield County Clerk Jean Alberico said her staff is handling the election with confidence. They now have four years of experience with the current voting system, the set-up went smoothly on Monday, and there's a "fabulous" team of volunteers processing mail-in ballots and working as poll judges, she said.
"I think the feeling is way different from 2008," she said Monday.
She credited the political parties for getting voters registered well ahead of time, and the system that allows voters to permanently opt to receive mail-in ballots rather than having to process requests with each election.
Still, work done on Monday to set up the six polling places involved staff from her office and the county road and bridge department.
"It's amazing how much stuff goes out to these polling locations," she said. "Of course, road and bridge delivers the big voting booths, but we also need pens and paper, reading glasses for people who forget to bring theirs, poll books and signature cards.
"It's a huge, big undertaking. So this is my commercial for mail ballots," she added.
Of the county's nearly 28,000 voters, 19,068 are on the mail-in ballot list this year, and more people had the option of requesting mail-in ballots up until Friday. And of the 19,068 ballots sent out, 14,883 had been returned by late Monday afternoon, a return rate of 78 percent.
"Ballots have been coming in like crazy, which is great," Alberico said Monday.
Another 1,887 people took advantage of early voting, offered from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2, she said, resulting in a total voter turnout to date of 60 percent of all potential voters.
Today's polling place voting will cap off the effort, with the 23 staffers in the clerk's office, nearly 125 volunteer polling place judges and 16 volunteer mail-in ballot judges working to process today's votes.
Alberico said she expects to release an initial vote report around 7:30 p.m. tonight.