Ballot shortage |

Ballot shortage

In Garfield County Tuesday evening, polling places in Carbondale and Silt ran out of ballots, and voters waited almost two hours for the first reports of election results.

Garfield County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf said members of her election staff were on their way to the Garfield County Courthouse in Glenwood Springs bringing in absentee and early votes from Rifle. However, they had to stop in Silt to drop off more ballots, which contributed to tallies coming in late.

And in Carbondale, Precinct No. 2 ran out of ballots at 6 p.m., according to Precinct No. 3 election judge Nancy Smith.

“At 6 p.m., Precinct 2 came over asking for ballots. They said they had 40 people waiting with no ballots,” Smith said. “We said, `No, you can’t have ours.’ The clerk’s office ended up shipping them 200 more ballots.”

“The bottom line is it was fine, but people probably had to wait to vote,” Smith said.

She wondered why Carbondale polling places received so few ballots. “Usually you have two or three times more ballots than you need,” she said.

Polls officially closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The first election results for anxious Garfield County voters, candidates and members of the press were distributed at the Garfield County Courthouse at 8:45 p.m., past the time many precincts throughout the state had reported counts to the public.

A majority of absentee/early votes had been collected and counted by the Garfield County clerk and recorder’s office. Still, Garfield County Clerk Alsdorf waited until all the early ballots had been brought to the Garfield County Courthouse before releasing those numbers.

“I like releasing the numbers that way instead of mixing them in together,” Alsdorf said. “It’s my way of organizing things.”

Early voters could pick up ballots at the Garfield County Courthouse and either vote on site, or return the ballots at a designated ballot box at the courthouse by 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Voters could also pick up ballots in Rifle, vote on site, and return them to a designated ballot box by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Alsdorf said she set the early deadline in Rifle so that election judges could get absentee votes back to the courthouse in time for the first election report.

However, some Rifle absentee voters brought their ballots to Rifle after the 5 p.m. deadline.

“It’s not a big deal,” said Alsdorf. “We instructed voters beforehand the deadline in Rifle was 5 p.m. in our ads and literature. But some people don’t read. So my staff accepted some of those ballots past the deadline.”

And because the Rifle staff had to stop off in Silt to drop off more ballots, they were later than expected getting to the courthouse with the early votes.

Alsdorf says there’s no law that requires all absentee/early ballot results be given to the public at one time, but that it’s the way she tabulates votes.

“I’m not going to do it any other way,” she said.

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