Craig to vote by mail in April
Council hopes mail-in ballots boost turnout
By the numbers:
Turnout from past Craig municipal elections:1993*
— 4,561 registered voters
— 2,182 voted, or 47.8 percent
— 5,288 registered voters
— 2,266 voted, or 42.8 percent
— 5,334 registered voters
— 547 voted, or 10.2 percent
— 5,134 registered voters
— 671 voted, or 13 percent
— 5,635 registered voters
— 640 voted, or 11.3 percent
Craig municipal election calendar:
• March 4 — Last day candidate nomination petitions may be circulated and signed prior to the election
• March 7 — Last day a person can register to vote in the municipal election
• March 14 — Ballots are mailed to registered and active city voters
• April 5 — Election Day
— To activate, register or update your voter status, visit govotecolorado.com or stop by the Moffat County Elections department inside of the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way.
Craig City Council member Joe Herod said residents don’t often think they have a voice in government.
But, “They do,” Herod said.
The city council recently took action Herod thinks could help residents understand the role they play in city government by increasing the chances voters will participate in municipal elections.
At its regular Tuesday meeting, the Craig City Council approved, 5-0, to host an all mail-in ballot in April’s municipal election. The vote is a change from previous years in which residents would vote at one polling place located inside Centennial Mall.
“As city officials, we should be proactive in bringing the public out to vote,” Herod said. “Now, we can’t make everybody vote. But, I just think this mail-in ballot thing, even if it costs us a little bit more in the long run … we are in way better shape. It gives the public a chance.”
City Clerk Shirley Seely discussed the idea with city council Tuesday.
“It really is a convenient way for people to vote,” she said. “I think we will get more participation that way (and) we’ll have more of our citizens directing our city.”
Seely also noted the council hasn’t had an all mail ballot election since 1995 and many other counties and cities in the state are moving to mail-in ballots.
The city used mail-in ballots in both the 1993 and 1995 elections and had voter turnout above 40 percent.
In 2009’s city election, 640 people, or 11.3 percent of residents voted.
In 1995’s mail-in ballot election, however, 2,266 residents, or 42.8 percent, voted.
Seely said she was unsure how much more the mail-in ballots would cost the city.
“I would say what we had budgeted, the $7,500 originally, would really pretty well cover it,” she said.
Lila Herod, Moffat County Clerk and Recorder, addressed the council Tuesday.
Lila said she expected mail-in ballots would cost the city more considering the amount of postage needed. But, mail-in ballots are becoming a more popular way to vote, Lila said.
“We are really seeing, even statewide, about 60 percent of the voters are moving themselves to the permanent mail ballot,” she said.
In Moffat County, about 2,000 people have signed up to receive permanent mail ballots, 1,500 of which are city residents, she said.
“That is significantly more voters than you have had turn out in any (recent) city election,” Lila said.
There are currently 3,077 active and 5,908 total registered voters in the city.
Stephanie Beckett, Moffat County elections supervisor, said the county will assist with mailing out the city’s 3,077 ballots on March 14.
Beckett said the city is only required to mail out ballots to active voters and noted if a resident did not vote in the 2010 November election, they could be considered inactive.
Inactive voters are still eligible to vote, but they must activate their status to receive a mail-in ballot before April 5, Beckett said.
Residents must be registered to vote in the city election by March 7.
To activate, register or update voter status, visit govotecolorado.com or stop by the Moffat County Elections Department inside of the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way.
Council member Jennifer Riley is optimistic the new format will provide a boost to previous years’ voting totals, which she said were a “fraction” of the city’s total registered voters.
“I think if you get a ballot in the mail you are more likely to look at it, vote it and mail it back than you are to actually go out and remember to do it on a certain day,” she said.
Joe thinks the new system of voting could bring on deeper changes, particularly with those who get elected to the council.
“It’s always been the good old boys that get elected basically,” he said. “And maybe it is time for a little change.”
Three council seats currently held by Ray Beck, Joe Herod and Byron Willems are up for grabs in the election in addition to the mayor’s position.
So far, Beck, Willems, Joe Bird, Bill Johnston, Don Jones, Stephen Hinkemeyer and Tony Bohrer have picked up council packets. Council member Terry Carwile and resident Frank Moe have picked up packets to run for mayor.