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Today, November 7, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. is officially Election Day in the United States. The blue-sky day offers perfect weather to encourage voters to turn out and vote if they haven’t already. Voter turnout in the county to date hasn’t been as high as in past years, so perhaps the beautiful weather will encourage turnout.

Voters are in control of how comprehensive the results will be at 7:00 p.m. when the polls close. “If a lot of ballots are returned in the last couple of hours, the results may not be very comprehensive at 7:00 p.m. notes Chaffee Clerk and Recorder Lori Mitchell. “Which is fine, we are just happy that they cast a ballot.”

Chaffee County voters braved bad weather in November 2022 to turn in their 2022 mail ballots at the Chaffee County Courthouse drop box. Photo by Jan Wondra

Here in Chaffee County, there are two vote centers open today to vote in person:

Salida, Legion Hut, 235 West 10th Street
Buena Vista, Community Center, 715 East Main Street

Mail ballots can be dropped off at the Vote Centers or the Elections Office, 104 Crestone Ave. Salida, or at the Motor Vehicle Branch Office, 112 Linderman Ave., Buena Vista.

Election Officials will be stationed outside the Chaffee Clerk and Recorder office at 104 Crestone Ave. accepting mail ballots from voters who prefer to do a “drive-by and drop-off” of their mail ballot.

Ballot Transport judges will be traveling to Buena Vista multiple times during the day today to retrieve voted ballots so they can be processed.

Teams of Election Judges will be working all day processing and tabulating mail ballots.

The elections comprising the consolidated election include the Salida city elected positions, the Buena Vista School Board, the CMC ballot question, and both state and local ballot questions.

Shortly after 7:00 p.m. The Chaffee Clerk and Recorder’s Office will run the first report that will have preliminary unofficial results. Those results will be uploaded into the state’s election night reporting site.

The Chaffee Clerk’s Office will continue to process ballots that were received before the 7:00 p.m. close time, and will make another upload to the state site at approximately 8:30 p.m.

“We will continue working through the evening and hopefully we will be done with all the ballots we can process and tabulate before 11:00 p.m., adds Mitchell. “If we are not done, I will assess how close we are to being done and decide if we will continue working or go home and begin again on Wednesday morning.

Voters whose mail ballots have discrepant signatures or missing signatures, are sent a letter and have until eight days after Election Day to cure their signature. Also in these eight days, the Chaffee Clerk and Recorder’s Office will continue to accept military and overseas ballots that were mailed before Election Day.

If a voter dropped their mail ballot in another county’s drop-box, those ballots are accepted as well. “Historically we only get a small amount of these ballots back during the eight-day period, so we hold out a batch of at least 25 ballots to put with them to protect voter anonymity,” explains Mitchell.

Mitchell cautions that if a particular candidate race is very close, the winner of that race might not be known until the ninth day after the election when the eight-day waiting period to accept absentee and military ballots ends. “This hasn’t happened in recent times, but we’re just giving everyone a heads-up,” adds Mitchell.