County clerk prepares for uncertain in-person turnout

Posted at 11:48 AM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 13:48:46-04

EL PASO COUNTY — Colorado is already seeing record turnout this election. Including locally in El Paso County.

"It does surprise me because we're about four times ahead of what we typically see at this same point," El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman said.

Tuesday numbers showed more than 109,000 returned in the county. The ballot drop box outside of the Citizens Service Center in Colorado Springs also showed a steady stream of cars throughout the lunch hour on Tuesday.

"I'm very happy of the fact that people are engaged, that they've done the research and that they were ready to vote and ready to take the time to cast the vote and bring it back to us in person," Broerman said.

However, Broerman is concerned over a larger than usual number of voters who may decide to vote in-person on election day. With conversations nationally surrounding the security around mail-in and drop off ballots. Colorado has been doing universal mail-in since 2013.

The clerk compared the process to wedding planning.

"It's like sending out invitations to the wedding and you wait to get those RSVPs back so you know how many guests to plan for, but not everybody returns that RSVP you still have to plan as though they all are coming," Broerman said.

Coronavirus cases are spiking in Colorado. Which brings other concerns to in-person voting. The message many election officials are spreading- vote safely by mail or drop off. COVID-19 precautions are also in place for in-person voting.

"It's important to keep our citizens safe," Broerman said, "we've worked really hard over the last six, seven, eight months to try and get us to a place where businesses can open and we can have some economic vitality."

In-person voting is typically for voters with special needs or those who need to register and didn't do so by the deadline to receive a mail ballot.

"I would hate for people trying to enjoy their franchise by going to an in-person vote center to vote that that could hinder our progress and hinder our ability to keep our citizens safe," Broerman said.

For voters concerned about security- there are many processes in place in Colorado ensuring votes are safe.

"Your mail ballot has the same security features and checks and balances as one that is cast in person, there is really no difference in the voter experience in how your vote is counted whether you vote by mail in the safety and security of your home or in-person," Broerman said.

There is also a cost aspect to voting by mail ballot or by voting in-person. Broerman says the cost per voter with mail packet is about two dollars, for in-person the cost can be between fifteen to twenty times higher depending on the labor and building rental costs.