County Public Trustee Tom Mowle, a Democrat running for El Paso County clerk and recorder, is on the warpath over current Clerk Bob Balink's latest press release lauding the mail ballot as the most popular way to vote — even as county commissioners mull whether to conduct the August 2010 primary election by mail alone.
"I'm not happy with the proposal to have mail ballots only, and I'm not happy about the misleading way in which the clerk is making the argument," Mowle says.
In Balink's release, distributed last week, election manager Liz Olson is quoted as saying, "The numbers show that El Paso County voters embrace voting prior to Election Day with percentages ranging from 58% to 67% in each of the five Commissioner Districts." But Mowle notes that those figures actually include early voting, which people do in person, at predetermined polling places.
When mail ballots alone are tallied from November 2008, they amount to 51 percent of all votes cast, Mowle says. That's much lower than Boulder's 67 percent and Denver's 62 percent.
A third of voters here went to the polls, compared to 16 percent in Denver and 17 percent in Boulder County.
"To say 'We love mail ballots' isn't right," Mowle says. "We're a traditional conservative county. We see the value in going to the polling place on election day. The clerk wants to take away that choice. I don't think cheap and easy is the way we want to conduct elections."
Mowle also is skittish about entrusting the U.S. Postal Service. Although Balink's election manager Liz Olson notes in the press release that mail ballots "are the most secure and accurate way to conduct an election," Mowle says one of his friends received a mail ballot for the recent November election just two weeks ago, after it had been forwarded to her new home in Arapahoe County.
It's against the law to forward mail ballots to new addresses.
"Is [Balink] saying the post office is more reliable and dependable than he is?" Mowle asks.
If elections are conducted entirely by mail, Mowle says, there should be more information given to voters about the process and lots more drop points on Election Day, not just the three clerk and recorder offices.
To comment on the county's conducting the 2010 primary election entirely by mail, contact the Election Department by Dec. 18, Attn: Liz Olson, Manager, P.O. Box 2007, Colorado Springs, CO 80901 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commissioners will take up the matter Dec. 29.