Mesa County mails 64,000-plus ballots to voters
Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner mailed 64,221 ballots Tuesday in advance of next month’s all-mail election.
Unlike a growing number of other counties in the state, though, she didn’t mail ballots to the 12,500 inactive voters in the county, Reiner said.
Instead, Reiner plans to have three voting centers open for a week prior to Election Day to accommodate inactive voters who choose to cast a ballot.
Mailing ballots to inactive voters became an issue last month when Secretary of State Scott Gessler sued Denver after it already had mailed ballots to its inactive voters, saying state law prohibits that.
A Denver judge last week disagreed, saying there is nothing in state law that prevents county clerks from sending ballots to inactive voters in an all-mail election.
Reiner said even before the judge’s ruling she agreed with Denver Clerk Debra Johnson’s decision to mail to inactive voters.
“To mail out 12,500 ballots to inactive voters, it would have cost us a little over $40,000,” Reiner said. “But to put up a couple of service centers, it was only going to cost about $7,000 just for the one week so we felt like that was a better use of taxpayers’ money.”
To handle inactive voters who wish to cast a ballot, Reiner plans to have two service centers open the week before the Nov. 1 election.
Gessler has come under fire statewide for his lawsuit, including criticism that his stance would disenfranchise overseas military voters, who may not have received postcards reminding them to re-active their voter status.
Voters automatically become inactive if they fail to cast a ballot in one even-year general election, and Reiner and other clerks say military voters serving overseas often skip such elections.
Regardless of Gessler’s stance, several clerks, including Reiner, have mailed ballots to inactive military voters.
Among the ballots mailed on Tuesday were 61 to military personnel serving overseas. She’s already mailed 102 ballots to active military voters and even received 12 back.
“I thought it would be good to go ahead and include them because they’re not here and they can’t just activate their registrations or go to the centers,” she said.
Voters who don’t receive a ballot can go to her office at the Mesa County Courthouse, 544 Rood Ave.’ the Clifton motor vehicle office at 3225 I-70 Business Loop; or Goodwill Industries, 630 24 1/2 Road.
Inactive voters can cast a ballot at Reiner’s courthouse office at any time, but the Clifton and Goodwill offices will only be open during normal business hours starting Oct. 24. All three locations will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.