Several voters have reported finding and turning in completed ballots over the past several days that they discovered blowing in the wind in the parking lot of the Mesa County Central Services Building from a new drive-up drop box.
The first reported incident occurred Saturday, when petition gatherers who are part of an effort to recall Clerk Tina Peters said they found at least one loose ballot in the parking lot, and immediately turned it over to the clerk’s office.
Another voter said they were “flying out of the ballot box” at that same location Tuesday.
“Quickly I headed to the (elections) office as I had already attempted to retrieve the ballots, but they were taking flight across the parking lot and into the street,” Grand Junction businesswoman Ann Brach wrote in a letter to the editor submitted to The Daily Sentinel on Wednesday. She ended the letter with “A determined voter.”
Voters have been casting ballots for the past two weeks for the primary elections, voting for which continues until June 30.
Neither Peters nor anyone else in the clerk’s office responded to questions about the wayward ballots, but a sign on the drop box reads: “Did you hear me drop? Please make sure that ballot is completely inserted in ballot box.”
In late May, Peters announced the new drive-up box as “yet another convenience by the Clerk and Recorder,” saying that the “secure” drive-up box was intended to allow voters the ability to stay safe from the coronavirus while casting their ballots.
The box, located at 200 S. Spruce St., was recently moved from its original location just outside the front doors of the building. It’s the same box in which 574 uncounted ballots from last fall’s election were discovered months later during the February presidential primary.
The box hadn’t been emptied when it was locked at the end of voting at 7 p.m. Nov. 5, which was the day of the general election.
That incident, along with several other issues in the clerk’s office, including an 80% turnover rate in staff since Peters took office in 2018, prompted the effort to recall the clerk.
The new drive-up box had been in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Regardless, Peters said in late May that the public health crisis was one of the reasons why it was installed.
Initially, general taxpayer dollars were to be used to relocate it, but Peters instead paid for it with federal money intended to fund pandemic- related elections costs.
“Traffic, public safety and recent pandemic health concerns coupled with my commitment to provide the citizens of Mesa County with better Customer Service is the reason for the relocation of the Elections Voter Dropbox,” Peters said in a May 20 press release.
Voters can go to the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, GoVoteColorado.gov, to verify that their mail-in ballot has been picked up and processed.