Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman says election returns to be day late

Rep. Mike Coffman looking at areas to cut out of Pentagon’s budget.

MONTROSE — Election Day could see the largest turnout in state history, Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman said in Montrose on Monday, but unofficial returns won’t be ready until the following day, Nov. 5, because the ballot is so long.

Coffman is touring the state meeting with county clerks, asking them to release absentee and mail-in ballot results as early as possible on Election Day. As a swing state, Colorado will be “at the epicenter” of the presidential election, he said.

“I predict that early ballots will constitute over 50 percent of votes and will give voters the direction the state is going,” he said.

Coffman met with Montrose County Clerk Fran Long on Monday afternoon after meeting with Mesa County Clerk Janice Rich earlier in the day.

Approximately 50 percent of Montrose County voters have already requested mail-in ballots, Coffman said. Mesa County’s mail-in requests are at 41 percent, a number he predicted will rise.

Coffman said he has already met with a majority of the 64 county clerks as he tries to forestall some of the problems in the 2006 elections, which saw five counties, including Montrose, placed on an elections watch list.

Montrose County has made “extraordinary progress” and was taken off the list earlier this year along with Routt and Pueblo counties, Coffman said. He said he expects Denver and Douglas counties to be taken off the list soon.

Montrose’s problems stemmed, in part, from long wait times caused by problems with electronic voting machines.

But this year, voters will have a choice of electronic or paper ballots, Long said.

Mesa County votes will all be cast electronically, but Rich said five new voting centers will be added this year. She said requests for mail-in ballots are up from 30 percent in 2006.

“I can see a trend for more voting by mail because the ballot is so long,” Rich said.

This year’s ballot has 18 state questions, plus local questions and candidates, Coffman said, and he encouraged people who prefer going to the polls to get sample ballots ahead of time.

Voters have until Oct. 6 to register. They can request a mail ballot to be sent to their home until Oct. 28.

Early voting begins Oct. 20 and ends Oct. 31.


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