I want to thank the Craig Daily Press for the great election coverage and for its efforts in passing on the message to get out and vote. My comments today are on the complexities, the expense and the importance of the election process.
In the year 2000, the United States had a voting age population of 205 million. There were 156 million registered voters and 105 million voters cast their ballots in 8,000 election jurisdictions. There were 200,000 polling sites with roughly 800,000 voting devices. We had 1.4 million poll workers and fewer than 20,000 paid county, city and state election officials. (Statistics from National Task Force on Election Reform Election 2000.)
That's equivalent to ordering several divisions of several armies into a field all at once with part-time officers who have each received an average of two hours training and expecting it to come off flawlessly. Isn't that amazing? The logistics of Election Day would strain most large businesses, yet all of this is accomplished with an average of one full-time employee serving 5,250 voters all on one day. What other endeavor in society, government or business has such a ratio?
In our own little county, the 2000 Census calculated our population at 13,184. We have 8,438 registered voters, 13 precincts and 51 poll workers. In the 2002 general election, 4,629 voters cast ballots. Only 50 percent of our eligible electors showed up to vote. Voter turnout can and should be better.
The State of Colorado has created various ways to improve voter participation. Some of those efforts are improving voter education, creating convenient ways to register and apply for absentee ballots. Early voting will be held Friday through Aug. 6. During this time, voters come to the County Clerk and Recorder's Office to cast their ballots. Polling places will now be centralized at the Centennial Mall, and we hope this will alleviate a lot of Election Day confusion.
Elections are expensive. Did you know a general election will cost between $20,000 and $25,000? Ballots, supplies, poll workers, publications, mailings, etc., it all adds up. It doesn't matter how many ballots are cast, the cost of the election will remain the same. Guess who really pays for these elections? You're absolutely right, "We, the people, the taxpayers." As citizens of this county, we should be more accountable for our tax dollars. It is our responsibility to exercise our right to vote.
The right to vote is the cornerstone of democracy, and voters are its custodians. The first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, "We, the people ..." is evidence that the power to govern in the United States lies with the people. This power to govern is exercised directly through our right to vote. Voting is our way of making decisions, of speaking out to express our opinion on issues, and of expressing satisfaction or dissatisfaction with public officials.
Voter information cards were mailed to all active voters in the county.
Voters can and should be a part of the process to ensure the accuracy of their voter record. Take the responsibility to review your registration information in order to check for accuracy of address, party affiliation, and polling place information. Contact our office with any questions concerning your registration.
As the election officials for Moffat County, it is our commitment to you to maintain the democratic process in fair and open elections. It is our honor to protect and promote public trust and confidence in accurate and fair elections. We welcome your questions and interest in the election process, and we appreciate your suggestions.
This year, your vote will help elect the president of the United States, our 3rd Congressional District representative, state senators, our district attorney and county commissioners. We will see several issues on the November ballot. Remember, it's our duty to know the issues and know the candidates, and then VOTE!