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Dems, unaffiliated active voters surge in Eagle County as GOP numbers decline

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October 1, 2020, 9:18 am

RealVail.com on Monday checked in with Eagle County Clerk Regina O’Brien on the current level of voter registration, and it’s more bad news for Republicans locally. Compared to 2018 – a Democratic midterm wave – active GOP voters are down 1.7% from 7,087 to 6,963.

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Meanwhile, Democrats, who won big locally, in Colorado and across the nation in 2018, have increased the number of active, registered voters locally by 7.7%, from 8,973 in 2018 to 9,671 as of Monday.

But by far the biggest jump is in the number of unaffiliated voters, which climbed 16.9%, from 13,538 in 2018 to 15,838 as of Monday.

Time will tell what these numbers mean for the two major political parties in the Nov. 3 general election, which features a bruising battle for the White House between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, a Colorado U.S. Senate race between John Hickenlooper and Cory Gardner and U.S. House of Representative races for the two districts that split Eagle County – CD2 and CD3.

Eagle County and the state of Colorado participate in an all-mail election process and have done so safely since 2013. Ballots are mailed out to all active, registered voters on Oct. 9, which is just a week from Friday. So it seems like a good time revisit our voting process locally.

Here’s critical voting information O’Brien shared with RealVail.com on Aug. 16:

  • Saturday, Sept. 19 – Ballots sent to military and overseas voters (federal law dictates this date)
  • Friday, Oct. 9 – Ballots mailed to all active, registered voters (Colorado law determines the first day we may mail ballots)
  • Friday, Oct. 9 – 24-hour ballot drop boxes are opened, located in:
    • Avon
    • Edwards
    • Eagle
    • El Jebel
    • Basalt
    • Voters can return ballots in ANY Colorado county clerk ballot box as long as it’s returned by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.  
  • Monday, Oct. 19 – Voter Service Centers open in Eagle, Avon, and El Jebel
    • *NOTE* – We have moved our vote center location in Avon to the Town of Avon Municipal building (the larger space will help better accommodate social distancing, and this location is not far from the clerk’s office in Avon where voters have been coming for years).
    • Monday, Oct. 19 – Friday, Oct. 23; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Monday, Oct. 26 – Friday, Oct. 30; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Saturday, Oct. 31; 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
    • Monday, Nov. 2; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Tuesday, Nov. 3; 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Vail Vote Center opens on Friday, Oct. 30 and follows the same times as above on 10/30, 10/31, 11/2, and 11/3 (location is the Grand View Room atop the Lionshead Parking Structure)
  • Monday, Oct. 26 – Last day clerk’s can mail ballots; after this date, voters must come to a vote center to pick up a ballot.

Asked how confident Eagle County voters should be in the current mail-in system despite disruptions at the United States Postal Service, O’Brien offered this advice:

“We are working so hard to prepare for this election and to make as many services as possible available to voters,” O’Brien said. “The Colorado model of sending ballots early, operating full-service vote centers for two weeks prior to the election, providing staffed and 24-hour ballot drop boxes, and working closely with our county and state election partners all combine to provide choice and safeguards for voter access.” She went on to offer these tips:

  • Ballot drop boxes are a great way to ensure swift return of ballots. As mentioned above, boxes are opened weeks before the Election Day (open Oct. 9). When voters are ready to drop-off their voted ballot, these boxes are open.
  • Ballot boxes are also available inside all staffed Voter Service Centers starting Oct. 19
  • The Edwards 24-hour drop box was added in anticipation of 2020; there are five total in Eagle County and hundreds across the state.
  • Ballots may be returned to ANY Colorado county clerk-controlled ballot drop box by 7 p.m. on Election Night, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
    • For example, if you are a student living in Boulder, your ballot should be mailed to your best mailing address in Boulder, and the ballot can be returned in a Boulder County Clerk drop box by 7 p.m. on election night. Boulder County will deliver that ballot to Eagle County. All 64 counties work together to make this happen.
  •  If voters wish to return via mail, mail the ballot no later than 8 days prior to Election Day, Monday, Oct. 26. We strongly encourage voters to use a drop box after Monday, Oct. 26
  • The USPS has communicated assurances to Colorado county clerks that the budget situation and operational plans will not impact election mail.  
  • We meet weekly with the USPS to share information and communicate any issues or impacts, and we communicate directly with our local USPS postmasters frequently to ensure ballots are flowing and to immediately address any issues. We have been doing this for years and will continue to be very vigilant working with our USPS partners.
  • Colorado county clerks use all tools and methods to prioritize efficient ballot delivery — Election Mail indicia and logo, first-class postage for mailings closer to Election Day, Tag 181s for USPS processing visibility, and ballot tracking for voters.

Asked what voters can do now to make sure their ballot counts, O’Brien offered this advice:

Here’s what Eagle County voters can and should do now to efficiently receive their ballots in October:

  • Check their voter registration and update their residential and mailing addresses. Don’t delay. By law, ballots are not forwardable, so it’s critical that the mailing address in your voter record is current. Go to www.GoVoteColorado.gov.
    • This is particularly important for our voters who move frequently, military and overseas voters, younger voters/college students with new addresses due to COVID-19/remote learning, or voters who have moved due to employment displacement  
  • If you do not receive your ballot by Monday, Oct. 19, visit a Voter Service Center to pick up a ballot in person. There is no need to wait until Election Day to receive your ballot if you need to come in person.
  • Voters can register to vote up to and including Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. To encourage social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19, we encourage voters to visit a Voter Service Center prior to Election Day as, on that day, lines tend to be the longest. Prior to Election Day, voters can usually walk right up to a judge for assistance without waiting.
  • If voters have any questions or cannot find their voter information online, please contact our office at elections@eaglecounty.us or call 970-328-8715.
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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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