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Early voting and other options near an end 

Time short for early voting

With high interest in this year's election and a ballot that can require 20 minutes or longer to complete, be prepared for long lines if you decide to vote at your polling place Nov. 4.

It's still possible to vote early through Friday, Oct. 31, at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., and in voting centers at Chapel Hills Mall and the Citadel mall. Centennial Hall closes at 5 p.m., but the two voting centers are open until 7 p.m.

Mail-in ballots can be requested in person at Centennial Hall through closing time Oct. 31. All mail-in ballots must be received by the county clerk and recorder's office by 7 p.m. on election day, whether they are mailed or dropped off at any early voting location or one of the clerk and recorder's offices.

By early this week, 150,000 mail ballots had been requested in El Paso County, and 64,000 had been returned.

Note that if you requested a mail-in ballot but never cast it for whatever reason, you will not be able to vote by regular ballot at your polling place, but will instead have to cast a provisional ballot. Replacement mail-in ballots can be requested at Centennial Hall through election day. AL

Michelle Obama draws crowd

A capacity crowd of 2,500 filled City Auditorium Tuesday afternoon, with hundreds more huddled outside watching a tiny TV set, as Michelle Obama made her first Colorado Springs appearance of the presidential campaign. The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama urged the audience to get out and vote.

She said if her husband is elected, "Washington will stop just talking a good game about family values and instead actually deliver." She hit on familiar themes about restoring the economy and ending the war in Iraq. She also surprised latecomers by speaking directly to them for a few minutes before heading inside.

The crowd was pumped up by U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, congressional candidate Hal Bidlack, state Sen. John Morse and retired Air Force officer Carla Sizer of Falcon, whose 19-year-old son was killed last year in Iraq. Morse said Obama's campaign has helped build an energized local Democratic Party organization that will change this city permanently. AL

Sign to support wind power

The Green Cities Coalition of the Pikes Peak Region is collecting signatures from residents interested in seeing more of Colorado Springs' energy come from wind power. The group aims to have 1,000 residents sign up online by Nov. 5 (or Nov. 1 by mail) to show willingness to pay increased rates for wind energy to meet some or all of their energy needs.

There was no word at press time as to how many have signed up. Assuming you use 700 kilowatt hours per month, buying all of your electricity from wind power would increase your monthly bill by an estimated $14 to $28. For more, go to greencitiescoalition.net and click "Wind Power." AL

Vote by mail next April

With all the current election madness, you may not have heard much about the upcoming April city election. One thing you should know: It will be a mail-ballot-only election.

Voters will be asked to pick some representatives on City Council and possibly decide other city issues as well. City Councilors Jerry Heimlicher and Darryl Glenn are running for re-election. Councilor Scott Hente's seat is also open, and he may run again. Councilor Margaret Radford's seat will be up for grabs; she is term-limited.

Councilors said informally Monday that they would conduct the election by mail to save money. Not everyone is happy with the decision. Glenn has said that he thinks mail-only elections are not fair to voters. JAS

Baca drilling given go-ahead

Two wells to test for natural gas under the Baca National Wildlife Refuge received a thumbs-up this week. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a final environmental assessment Oct. 22, listing 37 conditions for the drilling to go forward, but no plausible option for preventing it from happening.

The proposal to drill for natural gas on the recently purchased Baca refuge, located about 90 miles southwest of Colorado Springs, triggered an outcry last fall among environmentalists and neighbors. Canadian company Lexam Explorations owns most mineral rights under the refuge; the federal government bought surface rights in 2004.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports that two environmental groups, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council and San Luis Valley Water Protection Coalition, will allow existing lawsuits to play out before plotting a new course. AL

Compiled by Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.

  • Also: Michelle Obama rally, wind power, city election plans.

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