In 2011, Summit County may vote only by mail |

In 2011, Summit County may vote only by mail

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

BRECKENRIDGE – Summit County residents may vote only by mail in November’s odd-year election, pending final approval from county commissioners on a proposal from the clerk and recorder’s office to go to an all mail-in ballot system.

The switch, which most counties in Colorado have already made, would save the county thousands of dollars on primary and odd-year elections, Clerk and Recorder Kathy Neel said.

Moving to a mail-in system would mean eliminating early voting and Election Day polling places in Summit County for primary and odd-year elections. By law, in-person and early voting polls have to be available for mid-term and presidential elections, Neel said.

Commissioners gave an initial nod to test the mail ballots in this year’s election, which is a small one, at their work session Tuesday. They will take an official vote on the issue at an upcoming meeting.

Neel said 40 percent of Summit County voters already cast their ballots by mail, and there are counties in Colorado where as many as 80 percent do.

“People are really beginning to like it,” Neel said of the mail-in voting option. “I think it’s a good idea because it will save the taxpayers a lot of money and we will have security in place to make sure people don’t vote more than once.”

The clerk and recorder’s office currently uses signature identification on mail-in ballots to ensure security. Under the mail-in only system, as with optional mail-in ballots in the past, the signature on the ballot would be compared with voter registration records for the resident. If the signature does not match, the voter is contacted. If the person who cast the ballot is not the registered voter, the ballot isn’t counted and the individual could face charges.

With by-mail voting, there would also be electronic voting equipment for the visually impaired, as well as the option to bring the mail-in ballot in person or get a regular ballot from the clerk and recorder’s office.

Moving to mail-in only elections would save the county 25 to 30 percent by eliminating the need for election judges. With the county budget tight, and an expensive presidential election on the way, the savings are important, Neel said.

“Elections just keep getting more and more expensive,” Neel said. “With the presidential (election) coming up, it would be good to be able to save some money this year.”

In the past, voters in Summit County could request a mail-in ballot prior to the election. If the mail-in only system is approved, ballots will be sent to all registered voters prior to the election.

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