Friday, October 7, 2011

Denver, Pueblo counties, but not El Paso, will send ballots to inactives

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Wayne Williams
  • Wayne Williams

Secretary of State Scott Gessler just lost a battle, if not yet a war.

Gessler, you'll remember, has been trying to keep cities from sending mail ballots to inactive voters. He says it's against the law. He says it disturbs uniformity in the state's elections. And he says his actions aren't in any way meant to discourage Democratic minority voters from casting ballots — despite evidence that inactive voters are disproportionately black and Hispanic.

Inactive voters are registered voters who didn't vote in the November 2010 election and have not voted since. In all-mail ballot elections, some Colorado counties have traditionally mailed to inactive voters, while others haven't.

Gessler ended up in court over the matter because the Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson wanted to send to inactive voters, while Gessler wanted to prevent her from doing so. However, a court Friday refused to issue a preliminary injunction stopping inactive ballots from being sent out.

They'll be sent in Denver and Pueblo counties. But not here in El Paso County.

County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams says there's no room in the budget to send to inactive voters, and that doing so would be too expensive.

“As I’ve explained in the past, for budget reasons we get about a one in a thousand response rate, so we spend about $1,000 for each vote we get back,” he said of mailing to inactive voters.

Williams noted that two notices have been sent to inactive voters informing them how to update their status, and a third notice was e-mailed to inactive military voters, who often don't check snail mail while overseas.

Inactive voters can update their status online until seven days before the election, and can vote by going in person to one of four election service centers starting on Tuesday and continuing through 7 p.m. on election day.

Here's more information from our Noted section this week:

Ballots go out Tuesday

Ballots for the all-mail Nov. 1 coordinated election will go out Tuesday, Oct. 11, to all active registered voters in El Paso County. Registered voters who are inactive (because they didn't vote in the November 2010 election), or who do not receive a mail ballot may go to any of the county clerk and recorder's four offices starting Wednesday, Oct. 12, to reactivate their status (if needed) and pick up a ballot.

Ballots may be returned by mail or dropped off during office hours at those same clerk offices: Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave.; Citizens Service Center, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road, #2202; Union Town Center, 8830 N. Union Blvd.; Powers Branch, 5650 Industrial Place.

All of El Paso County will take part in the election because of a statewide ballot issue, a sales tax increase to help fund public education. Many area school districts, special districts and smaller municipalities also will participate. — RR

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