By Angela Myers
The election is upon us! All active registered voters have or will very shortly be receiving their ballots in the mail. The final day to return your ballot is Election Day, November 8th – my office must receive them by 7p.
The concept of Election Day as the day you should vote has not been the reality for many many years. Instead, Election Day represents the deadline and the day that you will finally see the results of votes cast – or at least some results.
Lately there have been calls by various groups to wait to vote, skip the mail ballot and vote in person at the polling site. While voting in person has always been an option for our citizens in Colorado, very few over the years have utilized this approach – especially since 2013, when every active registered voter in Colorado began receiving a ballot in the mail.
Please know, it doesn’t matter whether you vote in person at a voting site or choose to vote the mail ballot you receive – all ballots are paper ballots, and all ballots have the necessary chains of custody, will be transported to our counting facility and will be counted in the same manner.
When I was a rookie clerk, I was gonna be the one to completely count all ballots before leaving election night. I thought it was silly that this could not be accomplished. Well, we managed to accomplish this goal, but it meant that I had judges leaving the counting facility at 6a the next morning. There had been snow on the ground when they arrived, there was snow falling when they left, it was dark at 6a in November, I had just worked them nearly 24 hours, and many of them were “seasoned veterans.” I came starkly to my senses and began to pray. I fervently prayed that they would all make it home safe, knowing that if anyone was injured or killed going home because of my arrogance and ego, I would never forgive myself.
I vowed that morning that I would never do that again, but I still didn’t like the feeling of people wondering when we would stop counting for the night and certainly didn’t want anyone to ever think that we stopped because we didn’t like the results. So, I asked my staff to research how many ballots we could process in one day. That sweet spot is 20,000 ballots. Armed with this information, I provided clarity to the press and to our citizens, so everyone knows in advance how things will go. Who cares what I want, what matters is what the citizens want – if you want election night results, you will vote early. Otherwise, if we receive more than 20,000 ballots on Election Day, we will stop and continue counting the next day.
Just to be clear, waiting until Election Day to vote will likely mean delayed results. And what happens if you find yourself in a personal crisis on Election Day – bad weather hits, you get into a car accident, poke yourself in the eye, have an argument with a spouse or family member that diverts your attention, get into a traffic jam, or get sick – suddenly taking the time to vote may not be your highest priority.
The “noise” about waiting to vote in order to avoid some kind of election fraud issue is simply hog wash. Our processes, our system, the election outcome is in no way affected by your waiting to vote and/or doing so in person. The only thing it does is potentially cause you to wait in line at a voting site on Election Day, delay results and create an opportunity for unforeseen circumstances to risk your vote altogether.
As your representative elected to oversee Larimer County election processes for nearly ten years now, a person who lives in your neighborhoods looks you in the eye on a regular basis, and considers election integrity to be my highest calling, I give you my strongest assurances that Larimer County elections are conducted with the highest integrity and with the appropriate checks and balances and auditing in place to ensure any perceived or actual vulnerabilities cannot be successfully exploited.
Please don’t let the “noise” get in your head. Get your ballot voted and returned to us for counting at your first opportunity. Every vote matters!
Angela Myers is the Larimer County Clerk and Recorder