Guest Commentary: Clerk shares election administration perspective

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In 2013, the Colorado Legislature passed a sweeping new election law. Not only did House Bill 1303 bring all-mail balloting and same-day registration to our state, it also required implementation in 2013. Planning for this reality was time consuming and challenging, but I am proud to say that implementation in our county was a resounding success.

We would learn a lot about these new processes, and have applied what we learned to our fiscal picture for 2014, resulting in budgetary cuts of more than $500,000 over initial estimates. Elections are expensive to administer – too expensive — and I am committed to reducing the cost of elections in Larimer County. However, I will not be penny-wise and pound-foolish in this effort, and any reductions will be based on experience and sound judgment.

A total of 100,579 eligible voters cast their ballots in November, a turnout of nearly 50 percent. Voter turnout is largely reflective of voter interest in the candidates/questions being asked. Historically, for off-year elections, this is a reasonably good turnout. With this new law, we saw 170 new registrations at our Voter Service Polling Centers, and the number of provisional ballots reduced dramatically down to just 10.

Processing of mail ballots went smoothly. Mail ballots are very carefully, methodically and securely handled. From the time they are dropped at one of our boxes or picked up from the post office, these ballots are handled by bi-partisan teams and chain of custody. Although credit for voting is immediately entered into our system (so you can’t vote twice), your ballot is not opened or processed further until we verify that it is, in fact, your signature on the outside of that ballot envelope. The process of opening these envelopes is carefully handled as well. The outside identifying envelope is separated from the secrecy sleeve containing your ballot before the ballot is removed from the secrecy sleeve and unfolded for counting.

This is just a glimpse of what is involved in the complex process of election administration. It is important to understand that it is Larimer County citizens, acting as election judges, who carry out these many processes – always in bi-partisan teams. Larimer County is blessed with an outstanding elections team and an outstanding team of citizen election judges. Partisanship has no place in election administration, and I am proud to tell you that these folks are highly committed to ensuring elections in this county are conducted with a high level of integrity as well. Our judges worked tirelessly on Election Day to provide preliminary results before going home – ensuring that the voices of Larimer voters have the impact they deserve. They have earned our gratitude for a job well done.

Elections are the foundation of integrity within our government, and I am committed to ensuring Larimer’s elections are administered with integrity – our election this past November was an excellent example of just that.