Carbondale town clerk `overwhelmed’ by early ballots |

Carbondale town clerk `overwhelmed’ by early ballots

At least 174 Carbondale residents have already voted on the Crystal River Marketplace ballot question, and the election day polls don’t open until Tuesday, July 15.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Carbondale town clerk Suzanne Cerise.

Through Wednesday afternoon, 174 over-the-counter ballots had been cast, and an additional 50 absentee ballots were sent out. She did not know how many of the absentee ballots had been returned.

As a point of reference, Carbondale’s special polling place election in April, which included the question of whether to adopt a home rule charter, attracted a total turnout of 712 of the town’s 2,700 registered voters.

Carbondale residents are being asked whether to approve the 252,000-square-foot Crystal River Marketplace on Highway 133. Carbondale trustees approved the shopping center 5-2 in February, but citizens calling themselves the Town Mothers collected enough petition signatures to put the question to a vote of the people.

Cerise and other town staffers are calling the early ballots “over-the-counter ballots,” but technically they are absentee ballots with a twist.

Cerise said voters were allowed to cast over-the-counter ballots at Town Hall starting July 3, and may continue voting through Friday, July 11.

Absentee ballots sent out to voters who requested them must be returned to Town Hall, not to other polling places, by 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 15.

The election day polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for all other town voters.

Cerise said state statutes have allowed early voting for several years, and Carbondale residents have taken advantage of it, but not in the numbers in the Crystal River Marketplace election.

Envisioning lonely election judges, sitting without anything to do on election day, Cerise said, “I hope we still have enough people to go to the polls.”

Cerise said voters who want to cast ballots at Town Hall are given a clipboard and chair to sit in while they mark their ballot, and an envelop to seal it in before returning it to her.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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