Ballot lengthy; mail-ins likely up

A six-page ballot and rising demand for mail-in ballots are likely to force Mesa County’s paper-ballot costs to skyrocket, according to Clerk and Recorder Janice Rich.

“It’s easy to say costs will be up,” Rich said.

Mesa County uses paper ballots both as backups at polling places in the event the electronic voting machines break down and for mail-in voters.

Although the exact paper-ballot price tag is up in the air at this point, Rich said a four-page ballot with 15 statewide questions in 2006 cost the county $30,176.

Sheila Reiner, head of the county’s elections division, said the growing popularity of mail-in ballots is likely to increase the paper and postage costs.

Rich said the county has processed at least 24,000 mail-in ballot requests already, and more are coming.

Election records show 17,016 people voted by mail in 2006.

Voters this year will confront 18 statewide ballot questions, the most since 1912, when voters faced 33 questions covering topics including how to implement Prohibition and whether Colorado should limit workers in underground mines, smelters, mills and coke ovens to eight-hour workdays.

This year’s ballot questions include whether to increase betting caps at casinos and whether to set aside severance tax revenue for road projects,  and defining whether life begins at conception.

And the state questions are just the tip of the ballot.

Depending on where you live in Mesa County, you could face questions over whether to hike sales taxes to fund a public safety building or whether to build a community recreation center or whether to allow School District 51 to issue $185 million worth of bonds.

And all that does not take into account the plethora of candidates running for local, state and federal office, including those competing for an open U.S. Senate seat.

“The length of the ballot is certainly impacting the cost of the ballots,” Reiner said.

Rich said the final cost of the paper ballots should emerge within the next several weeks.


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