Election season has started in Gunnison County

Ballots mailed out Monday, must be returned by November 7

By Katherine Nettles

The 2023 Coordinated Election has begun this week, and in Gunnison County that means the election office mailed out ballots on Monday to all registered voters in the county containing state-wide questions and questions from the Gunnison School District, which has three open seats for its school board. There are additional questions for City of Gunnison residents, Mt. Crested Butte residents and Montrose and Delta School Districts. Last week a team of community volunteers helped test the local system and confirmed that it is accurate and working well in preparation for the ballot counting process that culminates at 7 p.m. on Election Day, November 7. 

This year, Gunnison County clerk and recorder Kathy Simillion reports that 12,857 ballots went out, up from around 12,000 last year. In the North Valley, 879 ballots were mailed to registered voters in Mt. Crested Butte and 2,164 were mailed to those in Crested Butte and surrounding areas.   

Simillion said that if a voter has changed their address the ballot will come back as undeliverable. “The voter will need to call or come by the office for instruction to obtain a new ballot. We’re expecting the USPS to deliver starting this Wednesday. Give the post office a few days to deliver, and if for some reason a ballot doesn’t show up, please call 970-641-7927,” she said.

For those who prefer in-person polling centers, there are three locations across the county: in Crested Butte at the Queen of All Saints Parish Hall, and in Gunnison at the Blackstock Government Center and the Western Colorado University (WCU) Student Service Center. 

Ballot drop box locations include the Crested Butte Town Hall/Crank’s Plaza, Crested Butte South POA/mail building, a new box at the Mt. Crested Butte Rasta Lot and at the same locations as in-person polling at the Blackstock building and WCU in Gunnison. Simillion said boxes will open for ballots starting October 20, and will be emptied regularly. 

 Each election season, the Gunnison County Election Office begins the bi-partisan process of assuring election accuracy, and that took place successfully over the past month. As local volunteer Vikki Roach Archuleta describes, “Beginning in early September, the election staff goes through the meticulous creation of the ballot. After the ballot is completed and printed, they schedule the Logic & Accuracy Test (LAT). Two members from both the Democratic and Republican parties serve as designated representatives of each party for the LAT. The two teams are given 25 blank test ballots per team to take home and complete as if they are voting. Then each team hand-counts the two batches of 25 test ballots,” explains Archuleta.

Last week on October 12, the two teams met in the election office with the election staff and tallied the 50 test ballots through the Dominion Tabulators. Archuleta describes how next they manually entered the original 50 test ballots into the ImageCast X Ballot Marking Device the same way they were done on paper, and the Ballot Marking Device then printed out the ballot as it was voted, it was then reviewed and moved into tabulation. “So a total of 100 ballots were run through the Tabulator.  The total of the 100 ballots entered into the Tabulator MUST equal the hand-tabulated tally. On Thursday, the tallies were the same. This is the proof that the machines are accurate,” she concludes. “The four community members were the first of many dedicated party representatives and election judges who ensure that we have a fair and honest election this November.”

The polls will close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, November 7, and the election office will have the first upload of results starting around 8 p.m., predicted Simillion. Election director Michael Metcalf will preside over the results for the second year in a row. 

“Please cast your ballot as soon as you can,” advises Simillion. “The earlier you cast your ballot the earlier results will be available.”

 Changes of address can be made at www.govotecolorado.gov and sample ballot and drop off locations, times for the Voter and Service Polling Center and other information can be found on the county’s election website at www.gunnisoncounty.org.

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