Garfield County gears up for elections |

Garfield County gears up for elections

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado ” Garfield County clerk Jean Alberico expects a low turnout for the Aug. 12 primary election. But the Nov. 4 general election is another story.

“There’s nothing to vote on,” she said of the primary, explaining that the only race that will be contested at that time is election to State Representative District 57. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, is running against Daniel Korkowski, R-Grand Lake. The winner will later face Todd Hagenbuch, D-Phippsburg, in the general election.

The primary’s difference with the general election will be one of night and day. The Secretary of State’s Office predicts a 95 percent voter turnout for the general election, Alberico said.

Garfield County had 22,214 active voters and 7,095 inactive voters on Thursday.

Alberico believes the high turnout is expected in part due to the historic presidential race this year.

“If they want to avoid the line in 2008 they need to think about receiving a mail-in ballot,” she said.

Besides the question of who will be the next president, there will also be several local and state candidate races to choose from plus amendments and referendums.

“We’re looking at another really long ballot like in 2006,” she said.

Alberico said in 2006 the County Clerk’s Office used 178 election judges but this year there will probably be over 200. She expects to more or less double staff at polling places. She’s also hired an extra elections deputy and plans to use staff from other areas like the motor vehicles department to help out, not to mention various training and preparation efforts underway.

There will be about six staff members dedicated to the elections full-time. Alberico said she doesn’t want to see Garfield County caught off guard like many other counties were after unexpectedly high turnouts for the last presidential election.

“We’re just gearing up because we know it’s going to be a big one,” she said.

Speaking of gear, the office also picked up about $77,000 worth of new equipment and software last fall. The purchase includes a Hart InterCivic’s Ballot Origination Software System, a Ballot Now system and a tally system. Those allow the office to create ballots, scan batches of them at high speed, print them and tabulate them, Alberico said.

This is the first time the county will create and print its own ballots.

The gear adds to Hart InterCivic’s eScans and eSlates scanning and voting machines the county picked up in 2006. The machines created a ruckus in February when the Secretary of State de-certified several electronic voting machines including eScan and Ballot Now systems. The office cited problems with accuracy and security such as the machines counting extraneous marks as votes. But the Secretary of State later said it was extremely unlikely extraneous marks would change the outcome of a race. They were re-certified in March.

Alberico said the issue has been resolved and the uncertainty about whether the machines would be allowed to be used for elections won’t affect the elections.

An informational mailing about the general election will be sent out by Aug. 27 to the nearly 30,000 voters in Garfield County. Information is also available from the County Clerk’s Office at 945-2377 extension 1770 or Click “Elections and Voter Registration” under the “County Services” tab.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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