Twelve minutes. That's how long, on average, a random voter might spend in the booth this year and that's two minutes longer than state statute allows.
Thanks to a glut of referenda and initiatives, along with races for local and statewide offices, the Nov. 7 Election Day ballot will be longer than any since 1912.
That was the year that Colorado first allowed citizen initiatives on the ballot, and it was packed, with 18 initiatives and 12 referenda. In that election, the hot topics included prohibition (which voters rejected), an eight-hour workday for women and workers in underground mines (approved), and the right to recall politicians (approved).
This year, voters statewide are being asked to weigh in on seven citizen initiatives and another seven referenda referred by the Legislature including term limits for judges, same-gender partnerships and legal possession of small amounts of marijuana. In addition, numerous city and countywide issues will appear on the ballot including two tax-slashing proposals that officials say would decimate city government parks and other programs as well as candidates running for local and statewide offices, including governor and Congress.
Add to this, says Clerk & Recorder Bob Balink, a total of 68 different ballot styles that will appear in El Paso County alone.
"We're trying to encourage people to vote absentee or early, and not have them potentially have to wait in long lines," he says.
Earlier this week, Balink conducted a test run of five random volunteer voters, and the time they spent filling out their ballots ranged from nine to 25 minutes. A little-known Colorado law specifies that voters can only spend 10 minutes in a booth when others are waiting in line, though Balink doubts he would actually yank someone out for exceeding the time limit.
In recent years, an increasing number of people have cast early and absentee ballots, which they can complete from the privacy of their homes.
"We want people to have a good experience in voting," Balink says.
Outside the polls ...
Absentee ballots can be requested in person at:
Clerk & Recorder's office, 200 S. Cascade Ave.
Chapel Hills office, at the north side of the Chapel Hills Mall
Powers office, 5650 Industrial Place, at the southeast corner of Powers Boulevard and Airport Road
People can also request an absentee ballot be mailed to them by calling 575-8683 by Oct. 31. All absentee ballots must be returned to the election office either by mail or in person by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Early voting locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Oct. 23 to Nov. 3. In addition to the three offices listed above, people can also cast early votes at the following locations:
Monument Hill Church: 18725 Monument Hill Road
Fountain City Hall: 116 S. Main St.
Falcon Elementary School: 12050 Falcon Hwy.
Additional information about elections can be found on the Clerk & Recorder's Web site at car.elpasoco.com.