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We are exactly 20 days out from the election today (October 17) and just as it always has in previous elections, as of this morning, an ongoing cadence of communications from the Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder Lori Mitchell has begun.

This thoroughly transparent communications flow to everyone involved, including the candidates, the issues committee registered agents, the designated election observers, and the media. It will continue up to and through election day, then until the votes are cured and the state-wide risk-limiting audits are complete.

All involved have been provided with what is called a “Watcher Reference Guide” (Ark Valley Voice will be doing a news story about these guides next week). There are deadlines for the appointing entities to appoint election watchers (using forms provided to them) and as of today, the people who do the appointing have been made aware of those deadlines. Watchers take an oath to uphold the democratic process.

Mitchell has made a point that in this election “We will not put up with any shenanigans going forward.”

As Ark Valley Voice has reported during the past few elections, there have been incidents where appointed watchers refused to follow the rules even though they took an oath to do so. Some incidents were so serious that the County Clerk’s Office had to call law enforcement.

“Watchers, voters, and election officials deserve a transparent and respectful environment for election administration,” writes Mitchell. “Watchers play an important role in elections by witnessing the process and sharing what they learn with others in the community.”

She adds that “Observation is meaningful when watchers make a good-faith effort to understand the election administration process and respect the rights of others, especially voters and election judges, who are participating in the process.”

The Chaffee County Clerk and Recorders Office points out that it provides watchers with this environment:

  • A safe and secure environment; practical information in advance so watchers understand what they are observing;

  • Comprehensive observation of all relevant activities within the limitations set by law;
  • Opportunities to confirm adherence to processes;

  • A main point of contact who can answer relevant questions;

  • A respectful environment for observation.

Ballot Packets Mailed on Monday, October 16

Voters should expect that ballots will be arriving in mailboxes at the end of this week. The county has used a new ballot printer vendor and says the vendor has turned out a high-quality ballot package. It includes:

  • The outer envelope has a green bar down the left side, and the county’s new colorful election office logo which was designed locally.
  • Inside that envelope is the return envelope that has a yellow bar down the left side with the signature line on the back.
  • The ballot itself has some small design changes that were made by the State of Colorado. One change is that the oval is to the right of the candidate/issue and the other is that the oval doesn’t have a red ink outline; the outline is black.
  • The last thing in the packet is the Voter Instructions which now include an I Voted sticker! The instructions list times and locations for Vote Centers and drop boxes.

Voters should note that the packets do not include a secrecy sleeve and voters are encouraged to put just the ballot inside the return envelope and drop it off at an official drop box or mail it back.

Election judges have a process that protects a voter’s anonymity during processing. Voters can discard the voter instructions after removing the “I Voted” Sticker.

For those with questions about the election, these are good numbers to know:

Elections Hotline:  719-966-9082

Main Clerk’s Office, 719-539-4004

Elections office email,

For those new voters turning 18 prior to the election, or those new to Chaffee County, you can click on the Election countdown in the right hand column on our AVV home page and it will take you to Colorado’s voter registration page.