The first wave of ballots for the Nov. 7 election has gone out.
The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office snail mailed and emailed 4,654 ballots to military and overseas registered voters last week, Elections Manager Liz Olson said Tuesday. Teller County has also sent out ballots.
The El Paso County office will mail another 389,364 ballots to local residents on Oct. 16, said County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman. A sample ballot will be available next week at http://car.elpasoco.com/Election.
Broerman expects a 40 to 45 percent return rate. There are nearly twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats in El Paso County, and nearly the same percentage of unaffiliated voters as Republicans.
An odd-numbered year election normally does not have as much turnout as a presidential election, Broerman said.
However, "these issues are just as important," Broerman said of this year's ballot. "They go to the meat of how to run your household - it's about the value of having good schools, transportation and infrastructure."
Voters in the region are being asked to consider funding proposals covering transportation, infrastructure, schools, fire protection services and telecommunications.
Measures include a countywide initiative to provide seed money for an Interstate 25 expansion and a service fee for stormwater collection in Colorado Springs.
Residents of Manitou Springs and Victor will select new mayors. Manitou voters also will decide whether to fund a municipal public safety facility for police and fire.
The city of Cripple Creek wants to institute a lodging tax to benefit economic and community development, tourism and marketing.
The Green Mountain Falls/Chipita Park Fire Protection District is looking to keep excess revenue. The Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire Protection District is seeking a tax increase for operations and response, as is the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District to the northeast.
A Colorado Taxpayer's Bill of Rights brochure listing pros and cons of financing questions will be sent to voters on Oct. 6, Broerman said.
All school districts have open board seats, some contested and some not.
Four Pikes Peak region school districts - Colorado Springs School District 11, Widefield School District 3, Peyton School District 23-JT and Hanover School District 28. - are asking for property tax increases to help offset state budget cuts to education and make improvements in classrooms and buildings.
Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 is seeking to correct a property tax shortfall that developed as a result of a change in state law.
Cripple Creek School District RE-1 desires changing board representation to three at-large and two district seats.
As a "hybrid mail ballot state," Colorado allows voters to return ballots by mail or cast their ballots in person at nine voter service and polling centers across El Paso County.
Broerman said he expects about 1,800 voters to use in-person voting.
New tabulation equipment will enable 125 election judges to see images of the ballots as they are processed, which Broerman said will save on labor costs and produce faster results on election night.
"We can verify how the machine interpreted the ballot or not, for increased transparency and security," he said.
Ballots cannot be forwarded in the mail, so voters who have moved recently can update their address at govotecolorado.com or call 575-VOTE (8683).
Residents can register and vote through Election Day, but Broerman suggests people not wait until the last minute. It's less of a hassle on both ends, he said.