GUEST COMMENTARY
Ouray County Clerk Defends Mail-Ballot Election
by By Ouray County Clerk and Recorder Michelle Nauer
Mar 25, 2010 | 1168 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As your Clerk and Recorder, I am recommending that the August 10, 2010, Primary be held as a mail ballot election for many reasons and I will dispute any claims that this type of election is inferior to polling place elections in terms of security, accuracy or transparency.

This is how the mail ballot Primary will work. Voters who are affiliated as Democrats or Republicans will automatically be mailed their party’s ballot around July 19, 2010. Depending on when they receive their mail, voters will have approximately 20 days to make their decisions and vote their ballot. Voted ballots can be returned by mail or delivered in person to the Clerk’s office at the Courthouse, but they must be received no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day, August 10, 2010.

Unaffiliated voters who wish to vote in the Primary can do so by submitting the affiliation form we will be sending to them about a month before the election. They can also stop by our office to do this in person and receive their ballot immediately. Those who are more comfortable waiting for last minute information about candidates have the option of delivering ballots to my office as late as 7 p.m. on election night.

During the 2008 Presidential election, 78 percent of Ouray County’s voters chose to vote by mail or to vote early. We understand, however, that some voters prefer to vote in person, and please know that they will still be able to do so. Ouray County will be offering voting at the Courthouse for these people, to vote on disabled access voting machines, obtain replacement ballots, deposit their voted ballots in ballot boxes, or simply vote in person.

The processes in place for receiving, securing and ultimately processing all ballots are extremely detailed and tight, monitored closely by staff or myself. In the same manner as mail ballots are handled during any election, at no time is any staff or election judge allowed to handle a ballot alone. Two people must be involved every step of the way as the ballot is received by mail or from the drop box, sealed in secure containers and ultimately delivered unopened to the bipartisan team of election judges several days before the election for counting.

This type of election allows better control of critical processes, which ultimately produces the most accurate results. It is vital to be able to confirm that complex election laws and rules are applied consistently. This is more attainable with a highly trained and experienced staff and tenured judges involved in the process.

To maintain the highest level of transparency, we always welcome those interested in learning more about these processes to contact us, and encourage all to understand their options for involvement or watching some or all of the processes we employ.

There is no evidence that mail ballot elections are more subject to fraud than polling place elections. To my knowledge, Ouray County has not had any situation in which someone voted another’s ballot. The original voter in this scenario would have alerted us that they didn’t receive a ballot, or tried to vote again at the polls, and our records would have discovered fraud immediately based upon signature verification. This hasn’t happened.

I assure you that this and every future election in which I am entrusted with such an important responsibility will be conducted with fairness, precision and transparency as the ultimate goal. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. I can be reached at 970/325-4961.
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