Election boss: Ballot boxes get her vote
New method a big hit, clerk says
At first, the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office was a little concerned about the idea of using 24-hour ballot boxes for the first time in Tuesday’s elections.
While such boxes have long been in use elsewhere in the state, the folks in Sheila Reiner’s office were understandably worried about the idea.
Would people mess with them? Would they understand that they are legit? Would voters even use them?
No, yes and a resounding yes, Reiner said.
“Throughout the entire election (voter traffic) was very steady, tracking exactly like a normal coordinated election would,” Reiner said. “Then in the last three hours after 4 p.m., every box that came back was full.”
Reiner said thousands of ballots came in during those final hours, destroying her prediction of getting done before the 10 o’clock news.
Still, she wasn’t worried because she had her crack election staff: Catherine Lenhart, Amanda Hilgenfeld, Patti Inscho and Tamela Spelts.
“The election staff did an amazing job of staying on task and powering through it,” Reiner said. “They are the Fantastic Four.”
The new election reform law that turned Colorado into an all mail-in ballot state also required an increase in the number of places voters could go to turn in those ballots during the final three days of any election.
The law allows clerks either to use the 24-hour boxes, or increase the number of drop-off locations that are manned with election judges during normal working hours.
“If you do the math on that, it was a better business decision for us to get the 24-hour boxes,” she said.
Each cost about $2,000.
Officials in the clerk’s office, however, were unsure how they would be greeted by voters and whether they would be secure.
That’s why each was bolted to the ground, had live cameras monitoring them, signs warning people not to tamper with them (which would be a crime), and are specially built to include three interior metal liners to protect ballots from harm or tampering.
They were placed at various locations around the county, including one just outside the Mesa County Central Services Building. Two others were at the Fruita Civic Center and the Department of Human Services Building on 29 1/2 Road.
Although it wasn’t available 24 hours, the box the office placed at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Clifton proved to be the most popular.
As a result, Reiner said she plans to add a fifth box by the next general election.