All-Mail Ballot for Denver’s May Election

Denver’s mayoral and city council elections scheduled for May will be conducted by mail this year. The decision was recommended by Mayor Hickenlooper’s panel investigating November’s election debacle. From the Rocky Mountain News:

  For the first time in Denver’s 148-year history, voters will elect a mayor and a City Council through an all-mail ballot.
The Denver Election Commission, which has been lambasted for its handling of the Nov. 7 balloting, decided Tuesday to conduct a cheaper and easier all-mail municipal election May 1.

While all-mail elections have been done in Denver in 2001 and 2003 for school board races, it will be a first for a general municipal election, commissioner Susan Rogers said.

“Normally, this would be a very low turnout election, but the mail ballot ought to drive participation levels up, not to mention being less expensive and easier on the commission, too,” she said. “It’s kind of like a triple win.”

The authority to do all-mail balloting came in 1999, and it is allowed in Colorado only in off-year elections.

The decision follows the recommendation of a panel appointed by Mayor John Hickenlooper to investigate the problem-plagued Nov. 7 election.

Last month, an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 voters abandoned long lines at polling places when computer registration checks bogged down.

Election commissioner and outgoing Clerk and Recorder Wayne Vaden, who resigned after the election fiasco, abstained from voting on how to conduct the May balloting.

“We have another hurdle we have to cross first,” he said, referring to a possible Jan. 30 special mail-ballot election to ask voters to replace the three-member commission with an elected clerk and recorder.

Vaden said that the Hickenlooper administration is “not very confident” in the commission’s ability to recover so quickly after what happened in November.

“I’m not optimistic about a rush to an election,” he said. “Even when we’ve planned,” mistakes have been made, he added.

But the other commissioners said that they have no choice but to conduct a January election if the council decides to call for one next week.

“We can’t say we don’t want an election,” Sandy Adams said.

Rogers said that a Jan. 30 election is doable but will come at a price. She predicts that it will cost $700,000, an $83,000 increase over the initial estimate.

Adams said she has concerns about a mail election because of potential fraud.

“Another reason I don’t like mail ballots is that if you drop it in the mail, I don’t have control over the postal service,” said Adams, the daughter of a retired letter carrier. “We’ve gotten Arapahoe County ballots delivered to us in Denver. We just got a 2003 ballot that came in the other day.”

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