Vote counting to go smoothly for Garfield County |

Vote counting to go smoothly for Garfield County

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman said on Friday that Garfield County is in “a great position” to smoothly tabulate and release election results during November’s general election.

Coffman said he was confident that the state will not see significant problems even as he thinks that year’s election may have the highest voter turnout in Colorado history.

“From my perspective it is going to be very smooth,” said Coffman during a stop at the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. “From the media perspective, it may not be smooth, and I am trying to manage those expectations.”

The day before Coffman visited Glenwood Springs to meet with Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico, his top election official unexpectedly resigned.

But Richard Coolidge, a Coffman spokesman, assured voters on Friday that the departure of Holly Lowder, the office’s director of elections, won’t result in confusion at the polls.

Coffman said he thinks the majority of votes in this year’s election will be either those cast early or those sent in by mail, and that those results from those ballots will be available shortly after 7 p.m. on Nov. 4. That will give the nation and residents of Colorado an idea of the direction of the state early on election night.

Still, Coffman noted that this year’s election will have many more paper ballots being cast than the state has seen in a long time, which could lead to some results taking longer to come in.

“It takes longer time to count paper ballots than it does to count votes cast on an electronic machine,” Coffman said. “I think people have to be understanding of that.”

During his stop in Glenwood Springs, Coffman urged residents in the area and across the state to take part in early voting or to mail in their ballots.

“We can start counting those mail-in ballots 10 days before the election,” said Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Jean Alberico.

Last week, the county clerk and recorder’s office sent out 29,000 mailings encouraging people to request a mail-in ballot for the November election or to seek permanent mail-in ballot status, she said.

One benefit for mail-in ballots is that they will give residents time to go over state-published voter guides as they mark their selections, Coffman said.

That could prove beneficial because voters in the state this year will have 18 state-wide ballot questions. Fourteen of those questions are ballot initiatives, while the other four are referred measures from the state legislature, Coffman said.

“I really want to encourage people to vote by mail,” he said. “Residents can take their time at home with that ballot and deliberate on those questions at their convenience, as opposed to waiting in line and going to vote on election day.”

One of those measures voters will see include one that proposes reforming the state’s initiative process.

“It is very easy to get issues on the ballot,” Coffman said. “It is a direct democracy approach, but I think there are people, who rightly want to reform it.”

Coffman said the problem with Colorado’s current ballot initiative process is that it takes the same threshold of signatures to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot as it takes to get a statutory provision on the ballot ” which is a measure that the state legislature can amend at a later time.

He said a constitutional amendment can only be changed by another amendment.

Coffman won the Aug. 12 Republican primary in the Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District, and most observers in the state consider him a shoo-in for Congress in this year’s election because the district leans Republican.

Some Republicans have criticized Coffman for not resigning from the Secretary of State position before Aug. 28 ” a move that would have led to a special election between a Republican and a Democratic candidate appointed by Colo. Gov . Bill Ritter in November.

“I think it would be disruptive to change Secretary of States right before a presidential election that is going to have high voter turnout,” Coffman said of the criticism. “My first obligation was to do my job as Secretary of State.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

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