Leadville’s November Ballot: “Mail It In!”
In less than two weeks, Leadville Today (LT) will be bringing you the results from the 2017 Election which includes several City of Leadville positions, as well as two tax increase measures. But looking at the ballot, it seems that this November’s results could just as easily be reported today.
“I have never seen a ballot with only two candidates (for City Clerk and Ward One, Leadville City Council) on it, and everyone else is a write-in,” stated Berger in an interview with Leadville Today.
She should know. Berger’s office has been running local and special elections under her direction for 22 years in Lake County, ever since she first took office as the Lake County Clerk and Recorder in January 1995.
Registered voters should have received their mail-in ballots last week and depending on where you live, voters will see different measures, as well as candidate options for the City of Leadville positions and Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Board of Trustees.
Leadville Today (LT) is going to break it down for readers, so that registered voters will be informed about the correct procedure in which to cast their ballot, so that it counts. Of course, when it comes to elections, LT turns to the local expert, Lake County Clerk and Recorder Patty Berger. It is her office that is charged to oversee the November 7 Election.
It might be easiest to break down this November’s election into two components: the City of Leadville and the Colorado Mountain College District (CMC).
And residency counts, explains Berger. If you’re in the county and a registered voter, then you will only be voting on Ballot Issue 4B which deals with a proposed tax increase; and you may also cast your vote for three candidates for the CMC Board of Trustees. Only one of those three Trustee positions has a challenger.
If you live within the City of Leadville and are a registered voter, then you’ll see the above mentioned measures and candidates, in addition to Ballot Issue 2A, which is a city tax measure. From there, it gets “very interesting,” stated Berger.
The first item on the city candidate’s ballot is pretty straight forward. The position of City Clerk has only one candidate running for the position: Rachelle Collins. One vote for the candidate secures the position.
The position of City Treasurer has two official write-in candidates: Tina Tekansik and Elsa Tharp. In this race, whoever gets the top number of write-in votes will win this position. So why aren’t their names on the ballot? According to Berger, whose office records all election transactions as part of a transparent democracy, Tharp had taken out a petition to run for City Treasurer in August, but was unable to secure the required 25 (valid) signatures to get on the ballot. The next step for interested candidates who do not meet this requirement is to become an official Write-In Candidate, which Tharp then choose to do. The other choice is Tina Tekansik, who choose to become a write-in candidate from the get-go, by-passing the petition process all together. All registered city voters can vote for the positions of City Clerk and Treasurer.
Now, it’s on to Leadville City Council. While it may look like there actually are no candidates-to-meet, the ballot actually presents a more complicated process to voters. For those new to the municipal process, each City Ward has two representatives to Leadville City Council. Presently 5 of the six council positions are up for grabs. However, only one city council candidate went through the petition process successfully to be put on the ballot. That was Jane Gowing, the only candidate from Ward One.
So, here’s a line by line ballot breakdown, explaining why some positions have no candidates, while others have only one person listed, to what are Write-In Candidates and what do voters need to do procedurally to assure that their vote counts!? You’ve got questions, and LT has the answers!
Incumbent Jane Gowing was appointed to Leadville City Council in 2016. Gowing went through the petition process and secured the signatures required to have her name placed on the ballot. Gowing has no challengers, so one vote will secure her re-election.
Four-year Term: Domenic Roti is the only official Write-In Candidate for the 4-year position in Ward Two. He did pull a petition, but did not secure the required 25 signatures to be put on the ballot. Roti then decided to become an official write-in for the position. In August 2017, Domenic Roti was appointed to the Ward Two position by city council and presently serves on council.
Two-year Term: There were no petitions or write-ins for this position. Therefore, according to Berger the representative currently seated on council in this position will remain until January 2018, where after Leadville City Council will attempt to fill seat by appointment.
It was also noted by Clerk Berger that Leadville resident Andrew Mention also pick up a petition to run in Ward Two. However, his petition was not returned and he decided not to be a write-in candidate.
Two-year Term: Kevin Linebarger is the only official Write-In Candidate for the 2-year position in Ward Three.
He did pull a petition to get on the ballot, but did not secure the required 25 signatures to be put on the ballot. Linebarger then decided to become an official write-in for the position. In August 2017, Kevin Linebarger was appointed to the Ward Three position by city council and presently serves on council.
Four-year Term: There were no petitions or write-ins for this position. Therefore, this council seat as well, will be appointed by Leadville City Council in January 2018 after the current representative serves out their obligation.
Once you’ve decided how to vote, be sure to do it correctly, so that it counts. These are the rules for the Write-In Candidates, according to Berger:
- They can only show people the list of write-in candidates if they ask.
- They DO NOT publish the list of candidates and what positions they are running for.
- They DO NOT leave a list of write-ins out on the table by the election judges for people stop review.
- Voters can ONLY vote for the verified write-in candidates. Therefore, casting your vote for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck or anyone else for that matter, will not count.
- The adjudication process for write in candidates is done by the election judges, who ultimately determine the intent of the ballot. They determine whether or not write-in votes are legitimate.
Early Voting & Election Day
- Mail-In Ballots have arrived to registered voters. Remember, Colorado is one of only three states utilizing a vote-by-mail system for all elections. And that’s exactly how Clerk Berger hopes a majority of ballots are submitted. “Our hope is that people use the mail-in ballot that we’ve mailed to them.”
- Early Voting will be available starting next week from Monday, Oct. 30 through Election Day: Tuesday, November 7. Early voting takes place at the Lake County Courthouse on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Voters should know that early voting will be available on that Saturday, Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This process will look a bit different to voters this year. In fact, describes Berger, “it’s all going to be paper.” Yes, it’s true in a world becoming forcibly “green,” Colorado’s new voting system creates a paper record of your ballot. In fact, when you bring in your ballot or after it’s mailed in, it will be scanned in for the adjudication process. If the write-in box was checked, does the name written match the official candidate’s? If any ballots are red-flagged through that scan process, the election judges will determine its validation. If it passes that test, then the scanned copy is printed and placed in a ballot box to be later counted by hand.
- Election Day: Tuesday, Nov. 7 voting polls will be open from 7 a.m.to 7 p.m. at the courthouse. Pictured ID required. However, for those who prefer to vote the day of, Berger explained that they also will see new election equipment in place at the courthouse. That’s right, if the ballot isn’t confusing enough, Lake County was among the 54 of the state’s 64 counties that converted to new election machines! The Dominion Voting Systems Democracy Suite 4.19 System allows voters to cast their ballot electronically, only to have them print a copy of their ballot afterward and place it in an old-school ballot box, to be counted by hand by the election judges when the election is officially complete. Be advised there will only be ONE of these new machines available on Election Day, so depending on turn-out you could see a line.
“Everything about the November 7 election is different,” stated Berger, to which she encouraged voters to “mail-it-in!”