by Rick Langenberg:
The early voting statistics indicate that the Nov. 6 election may set new records in a pivotal vote for Teller County, Colorado and the nation.
In the first two days of the early voting period in Teller, which kicked off on Oct. 22, more than 530 ballots were cast. That’s extremely impressive and doesn’t even count the number of mail-in ballots. Al Davidson, who has been hired as a consultant to manage the election for Teller, described the early tallies as quite strong. Davidson, in a recent report to the commissioners, stated that everything is on par for handling the forthcoming vote, which could experience a 90-percent-plus turnout of registered voters.
The early voting continues through this week at the Rampart Regional Library in Woodland Park and at the clerk and recorder’s office in Cripple Creek. Early voting is encouraged to avoid potential lines. Extended early voting hours were held last Saturday and are scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 30).
In addition, mail-in voters have until 7 p.m. on Nov. 6 to drop off their ballots at the clerk and recorder’s office in Cripple Creek or at 540 Manor Court in Woodland Park. On election day, registered voters can cast tallies at three vote centers, regardless of what precinct they live in. These include the Ute Pass Cultural Center in Woodland Park, Summit Elementary in Divide and the Centennial Building in Cripple Creek. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Nov. election is capped by the neck-to-neck race for the White House between incumbent President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. National polls indicate a dead heat for this contest in Colorado, considered a key swing state. And in the competitive race for the Colorado House District 39, which represents Teller and Douglas counties, Polly Lawrence will square off against Carla Turner, a Democrat. Lawrence won the Republican primary and overcame a vote challenge by Lu Ann Busse. Busse has filed a lawsuit, contesting these results and the way the primary was handled in Teller County. But the outcome of this legal action won’t change the results of the primary vote, according to Teller officials.
Local residents also will decide some key ballot issues, including a state proposed measure to legalize the possession of a limited amount of marijuana for recreational use. This issue, Amendment 64, has garnered much attention and sparked much opposition from law enforcement leaders and local counties, such as Teller. It mirrors a previous proposition in California that fell short.
However, earlier polls indicated that more Coloradoans support efforts to legalize pot more than a decade ago. And with the legalization of medical marijuana, some proponents see Amendment 64 as a better way to regulate cannabis. But foes argue that this measure would lead to more youth-related drug problems.
As for local issues, the Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District will be seeking a slight 3.94 mill hike to make up for lost tax revenue and to continue their current level of services. This measure was recently endorsed by the Woodland Park City Council. Most civic leaders have rallied behind this proposition, citing the tax as a good way to maintain current services and have a good insurance rating. Foes, though, question having a tax in the current economic climate.
Lower Ute Pass residents, meanwhile, will have their hands full with a bevy of local ballot issues. They will decide the fate of a measure to limit the terms of office to two consecutive terms for many elected seats in El Paso, including county commissioners and clerk and recorder. In addition, they will vote on a measure to continue the funding for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. They also will decide on a $17 million annual tax hike for urgent public safety needs. As for local races impacting lower Ute Pass resident, veteran Republican office-holder Sallie Clark is facing competition from John Morse, a key leader of the El Paso County Democratic Party, for the Commissioner District Three seat. This is the first time a Democrat has challenged a commissioner seat in El Paso County in some time.
By comparison, the two open county commissioner seats in Teller, District One and District Three, will feature no competition. These seats will be filled by Marc Dettenrieder and Norm Steen next January. They both won the Republican primaries, held last summer. A few other high profile seats also aren’t being challenged by the Democrats. These include the Fourth Judicial District Attorney position, currently held by Dan May; and U.S. House District Five Congressional seat, occupied by Doug Lamborn.