Confusion surrounds mail ballot process in Summit County
Ryan Summerlin October 29, 2012
With Election Day only a week off, reports have been trickling in of some Summit County voters saying they’re still waiting for mail ballots that should have been sent out two weeks ago.
Locals have reported some family members received their ballots while others at the same address never did, or the ballot didn’t arrive until several days later.
“Mine came, but my daughter’s didn’t,” said local Susan Fairweather. “What they did was they cancelled her ballot and then sent her a replacement.”
Both Fairweather and her daughter are registered as permanent mail voters and share a mailing address.
Election officials say there is a clear explanation for the majority of missing mail-ballot cases: typically either the voter wasn’t registered to receive a ballot in the mail or they hadn’t updated their voter registration with their most current address. Mail ballots cannot be forwarded.
“By far the majority, there’s a reason they didn’t get it,” Summit County election clerk Colleen Richmond said. “I don’t think it’s a widespread problem.”
But there have been at least 5-10 reports of missing or delayed ballots in which there doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason the ballots didn’t arrive on time.
Richmond said she knew of a couple in Dillon with the same mailing address who received their ballots a week apart.
But election and postal officials insist there haven’t been any hiccups in the mailing process.
Approximately 8,000 ballots were sent out to Summit County voters on Oct. 15 without incident, and additional ballots continue to go out daily as individual requests come in.
“They were all mailed out at the same time, together,” Neel said. “That has happened in the past and usually we never know why they didn’t get it.”
The bulk of mail ballots, sent out Oct. 15, are sent through a third-party vendor in Denver because the local election office does not have the resources to handle the first mass mailing. Later ballots are processed locally.
Statewide, the ballot mailing went off without any problems, postal service officials said.
“We’re 100 percent,” postal service spokesman David Rupert said. “Every ballot we have has been processed and sent out so we’re in great shape.”
A missing mail ballot is not an emergency. Voters who did not receive their ballot in the mail should call the Summit County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Election officials can cancel the missing mail ballot and issue a replacement up through Election Day.
Voters registered to vote by mail can also vote in person if they prefer.
“They can come to our office and we will get them a ballot that will be counted on Election Day.”
Today is the last day for election officials to send out mail ballots, but they can be issued in person through Friday.
The Summit County Clerk and Recorder’s Office is located on the first floor of the County Courthouse building on Lincoln Avenue in Breck alongside the Department of Motor Vehicles Office.