BALLOTS (copy)

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 in this file photo from June 2014. El Paso County will mail out ballots for the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. (The Gazette file)

The wait for those eager to vote in this year's election is nearly over: ballots for the Nov. 3 General Election will be mailed Friday, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman said.

Roughly 425,000 ballots are ready to go out to about 178,000 unaffiliated voters, 157,000 Republican voters and 89,000 Democratic voters in El Paso County, Broerman said Tuesday. He expects between 10,000-15,000 additional people will register to vote by Election Day.

Broerman told commissioners last week election officials were preparing for 80% voter turnout in El Paso County, up from 70% in 2016. The projected turnout is attributed to the presidential race between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden as well as a U.S. Senate race that could be crucial in deciding who controls the Senate. Additionally, voters will cast their ballots on nearly a dozen state ballot measures ranging from taxes to abortion.

El Paso County prepping for 80% turnout in November election

In El Paso County, voters will also choose three county commissioners. Republican Carrie Geitner is running against Democrat Tracey Johnson to succeed Mark Waller in District 1; incumbent Stan VanderWerf, a Republican, faces Democratic challenger Ken Schauer in District 2; and Republican incumbent Longinos Gonzalez Jr. faces Andre Vigil, a Democrat, in District 3.

Broerman said the Clerk and Recorder’s Office has taken steps to process the higher volume of expected ballots, including adding more voter service centers and drop boxes. This year, there are 35 voter service centers and 37 drop boxes, up from 25 voter service centers and 15 drop boxes in 2016, he said. The voter service stations will open in four phases as Election Day nears.

The first, located at the Citizens Service Center at 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road, will open Oct. 12. The site has already been open to people who will be out of town or have a special need or requirement. As of Tuesday, 300 people have either visited the site to pick up a paper ballot or cast their votes, a “significantly” higher number than in previous years when only about a dozen people voted in the first two weeks of its opening, Broerman said.

“So there’s definitely a lot of interest by people to vote, and to vote early,” he said.

Broerman encouraged residents to vote by mail, calling it a convenient and safe option during the pandemic. He also urged those voting in person to do so early, anticipating long lines and wait times at polling stations on Election Day and the Monday prior.

“We’ve done this. We’ve got this down,” he said. “We make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Last week, Broerman told commissioners about 95% of El Paso County voters were expected to return mail-in ballots. Mail-in voting has been heavily scrutinized and criticized by Trump and other Republicans who have claimed without evidence that mail-in balloting in states like Colorado is fraudulent. Local and state leaders in Colorado and other states have refuted these claims.

Broerman said, for added security, voters may opt into a statewide ballot tracking service known as BallotTrax, which notifies voters by email or text message that their ballots have been received and recorded. To enroll, visit colorado.ballottrax.net/voter.

The county also contacts voters whose signatures cannot be verified — either because they did not sign their ballot envelope or the signature is not readable, Broerman said. Voters can cure signature discrepancies by paper, email or through the TXT2Cure smartphone app.

El Paso County expects to release results on election night because Colorado clerks can begin counting ballots 15 days ahead of time.

Ballots are due before 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Those who have not received their ballots by Oct. 19 can contact the El Paso County Elections Department at 719-575-8683. For more voter information about the election and ballot drop-box locations, visit EPCVotes.com.

Reporter

Breeanna Jent covers El Paso County and the state of Colorado. She previously worked as the editorial assistant for the Pikes Peak Newspapers and joined their sister paper, The Gazette, in 2020.

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