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Western Colorado Springs voters are turning in their ballots faster than others

March 27, 2017 Updated: March 27, 2017 at 6:04 pm
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Julie Christopher drops off her primary election ballot at a 24 hour ballot drop box outside the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

Voters in western Colorado Springs are wasting no time returning their ballots with about a week to go in the municipal election.

Districts 1 and 3 have the highest voter turnout so far, the Colorado Springs City Clerk's office reported late Monday, with nearly 9,500 ballots having been returned in the race between former Vice Mayor Richard Skorman and challenger Chuck Fowler on the city's southwest side. Roughly as many votes have been cast in the District 1 race between incumbent Don Knight and Greg Basham.

In all, slightly more than 1 out of every 6 Colorado Springs voters have already returned their ballots for the April 4 mail-ballot election. Almost 44,800 ballots have been submitted, equaling a turnout rate so far of nearly 18 percent.

But that's likely to rise.

Voter turnout during the 2013 municipal election - the last time six district City Council seats were up for grabs - nearly hit 40 percent, city records show. About 27,000 to 30,000 ballots are typically returned on election day, according to City Clerk Sarah Johnson.

On Monday, Johnson urged voters to avoid the election-day rush and return their ballots at one of 11 locations across the city.

Doing so helps city officials clear up any signature discrepancies that may arise ahead of time.

It also may lead to fewer mailers or phone calls from candidates putting on a full-court press for last-minute votes. Candidates can purchase directories of people who returned their ballots early - allowing them to focus their campaigns more on people who have yet to vote, she said.

The last chance to turn in a ballot is 7 p.m. April 4.

About 8,700 ballots have been returned so far in the bitterly contested race for District 5 in central Colorado Springs, where incumbent Jill Gaebler is seeking to fend off challenger Lynette Crow-Iverson.

Nearly 7,700 votes have been returned in the uncontested race for District 2, while more than 6,000 ballots have been returned in the four-way race for District 6. There, incumbent Andres G. Pico is facing off against Janak Joshi, Robert M. Burns and Melanie Bernhardt.

Turnout again appears to be lagging in District 4, which encompasses the city's southeast side. Only about 3,400 ballots have been cast in the contest between incumbent Helen Collins, Deborah L. Hendrix and Yolanda Avila.

The same held true in 2013, when less than half as many votes were cast in District 4 than in any other race.

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter: @jakobrodgers

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