Election season is almost over and Garfield County election judges have been working hard
If you haven’t registered to vote yet in Tuesday’s election you still have time, including in-person registration on Election Day.
Local judges have been preparing for weeks to be ready for voters at the Glenwood Springs Community Center, one of the designated Voter Service and Polling Centers in Garfield County, and they will be there through the election to make voting as accessible as possible for anyone who is able.
Greeting people at the door is Mary Ellen Woertz, who has lived in the valley for about 50 years.
Connie Henke has been a judge for four years and is from Colorado. She lived in the northwest part of the county for the last 45 years and retired four years ago. She now does election judging as a retirement volunteer job.
Working steadily in local elections since 2003, Jeanette Davidson has worked elections since before then whenever her work would allow it.
Carolyn Jemison has worked the last eight elections, starting when she was 21 years old and has worked as a judge in Oregon, Michigan and Maryland.
“This is absolutely the best, most efficient way to work,” Jemison said.
She said that she really appreciates that Colorado uses paper ballots because they make things more efficient, and said the state has a good auditing system to check for accuracy.
She prefers paper ballots because, “you can always check, you can always count them.”
Election judges are compensated for their hard work, and each of the women have spent many hours training for this election. They need to know the database, which is connected to the Secretary of State, to make sure people can’t double vote.
They also need to verify signatures, make sure everyone’s votes are kept confidential, give instructions on the voting process, assist people with disabilities or other barriers like language, and some even tally the votes after the polls are closed.
They are also selected to have an even number of judges from each major political affiliation.
There is a full database shared between the judges and the Colorado Secretary of State that informs the system instantly when someone has registered, voiding all other copies of the ballot elsewhere.
“If you come in and you want another paper ballot because you want to take that home and vote, then that negates the first ballot that you were sent,” Davidson said. “So there’s no way a person can vote twice.”
Ballots will only be updated to the most recently registered.
There are a few different ways to vote when going in-person to a Voter Service and Polling Center (VSPC). You can drop off your sealed ballot in the locked and sealed drop off box at the south entrance at the Community Center, or a similar drop box at the VSPC located at the Garfield County Fairgrounds South Hall in Rifle.
People also can walk in to register and fill out a ballot inside by filling out a paper ballot that the judges can print in English and Spanish. People can also vote in-person through their electronic voting machine that isn’t hooked to the internet, but does print the ballot, once someone votes.
Voters are given a privacy envelope for their ballot that they place it into. They then get to watch as a judge slides it from the privacy envelope into the ballot box without ever touching it.
People who might need help with the ballot whose first language is not English can get help from the judges to call a number with the Secretary of State to fill out the ballot.
Voting is made accessible, secure and with a little fun with the local judges, so don’t forget to cast your ballot, even if it is last minute. But don’t go too late. The judges will try to let you in at the last minute, but the later you are the later they might have to work, they said.
Additional Election-Day-only VSPCs in Garfield County are located at Carbondale Town Hall, and the New Castle, Silt and Parachute branch libraries.
Post Independent reporter Cassandra Ballard can be reached at email@example.com or 970-384-9131.
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