Routt County to start mailing ballots Tuesday
October 8, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said Friday that after being given permission by the Colorado Secretary of State to mail ballots to inactive voters, she likely wouldn't.
But that doesn't mean those voters can't cast ballots in the Nov. 1 election.
A judge ruled Friday afternoon against a request from Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, to bar Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, a Democrat, from mailing ballots to voters who didn't cast a ballot in the 2010 general election or have moved since then and haven't updated their statuses. Gessler argued that sending ballots to inactive voters violated state law. Johnson disagreed.
The Denver Post reported that the request was denied in part because Johnson already had sent some ballots to inactive voters serving in the military overseas and one already was returned.
Secretary of State spokesman Rich Coolidge wrote in an email that the ruling didn't impact other Colorado counties. But he said each county was notified that it could send ballots to inactive voters for the upcoming election.
Weinland said unless she was ordered to mail ballots to inactive voters, she likely wouldn't.
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"My concern with sending inactive voters ballots: If they haven't responded to the five mailings we've already sent, they probably won't receive a ballot we send, either," she said. "We're doing a lot to inform voters that if they don't receive their ballots, they need to call our office. It's about voter education. We've worked really hard to educate Routt County voters.
"At this point, I'm leaning toward not sending ballots to them."
Weinland said voters could become active by going to http://www.govotecolorado.com and updating their statuses, or they could stop by her office in the Routt County Courthouse and update their statuses before voting.
Her office will begin mailing ballots starting Tuesday, Weinland said. She said inactive voters have until Oct. 25 to request a mail ballot. She suggested that anyone who hasn't received a ballot by Oct. 18 call her office at 970-870-5558.
All ballots are due by 7 p.m. Nov. 1. In addition to the courthouse, ballots can be dropped off at Hayden Town Hall, the Clark Store, Oak Creek Town Hall and Yampa Town Hall.
According to the Clerk and Recorder's Office, 6,187 of the county's 17,634 voters are inactive. That's 35 percent. By comparison, about 12 percent of Denver County voters and about 21 percent of Pueblo County voters are inactive, according to published reports.
Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz, a Democrat, tried to join Johnson in the lawsuit but was denied by the judge, the Post reported. After the ruling, it was reported that he would mail ballots to inactive voters.
In a statement released after the ruling, Gessler hinted at a continuation of the lawsuit. If it continues, don't expect Weinland, a Republican, to join her Clerk and Recorder counterparts.
"I'm in strong disagreement with the stand that the city and county of Denver is taking," Weinland said. "In that county, voters are being treated differently than in other counties, and we need uniformity across the state. And it goes in direct conflict with the state law."
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com