Primary is dress rehearsal for main event
Vote center ballot goes relatively smoothly despite fire
Woodland Park citizens took time out of their preparations for a possible evacuation to join their fellow Teller County residents in voting for the candidates for the November General Election.
While the Colorado Primary election on June 26 did not include presidential candidates, voters were able to help decide which candidates would be on the state ballot come election day this fall.
“This was my first vote center election,” said Judith “JJ” Jamison, Teller County Clerk and Recorder. “Last November we had a mail ballot election and the primary could have been but I wanted a dress rehearsal for the next election. I have to say, though, that Election Day is inspiring.”
First, the Teller County only races: Marc Dettenrieder faced Brian Walker in Commissioner District 1. The votes were fairly close when only the early ballots and Cripple Creek ballots were voted but by the time the last ballots were counted Dettenrieder had a sizeable lead, winning a place on the November ballot by a vote of 1,035 to 793. Norm Steen in Commissioner District 3 was unopposed but still earned 1,609 votes.
In the only other contested races for Teller County, Rep. Doug Lamborn, with 1,304 votes earned the Republican nomination for U.S. Congressional District 5 over challenger Colorado Springs business owner Robert Blaha who had only 581 votes. That wide margin held across the congressional district with Lamborn receiving 41,416 votes to Blaha’s 25,707.
In state Representative District 39, Lu Ann Busse’s five vote lead over Polly Lawrence did not help her win the Republican nomination across the district. In Teller County Busse had 903 votes to Lawrence’s 898, but Lawrence won the nomination by a vote of 3,525 to 3,056.
Brian Davidson beat Matt Arnold for Republican Colorado University Regent at large locally by a vote of 910 to 606 and statewide by a vote of 153,384 to 96,968.
A total of 2,359 votes were cast in Teller County, not including the approximately five provisional ballots and about 115 overseas votes and ballots that have to be cured. These are ballots that came in without a signature despite efforts to make sure all of the voters who received ballots without a signature line received a signature-line label before returning in their ballots. “I’ll have to call them,” Jamison said. “We have until July 5 to get all ballots counted.”
Unofficial Teller County election results are available at http://www.co.teller.co.us/CR/ElectionResults/results-1.htm.
Waldo Canyon Fire impacts election
Of course, no one took a massive wildfire into account when making electi0n plans. Ballots are not a top priority for people forced to leave their homes with no idea of when they would be able to come back or if they would have homes to return to and some voters have ended up in the wrong counties.
Voters from Chipita Park and Green Mountain Falls evacuated to Teller County when the Ute Pass communities in El Paso County were evacuated because of the Waldo Canyon Fire and some Teller County voters were stuck in El Paso County when U.S. 24 closed.
The secretary of state’s office authorized county clerks to cooperate in accepting ballots from voters stranded in the wrong county by the fires and Jamison said El Paso and Teller weren’t the only counties in the state affected by fires and evacuations.
“Voters were allowed to fax or email their voter affidavits to us, we faxed or emailed them their ballots and then they faxed or emailed their ballots back to us,” she said. “The Colorado Secretary of State’s office did everything it could, within the rules, to make sure people could vote.”
While dealing with the election, Jamison was also preparing for a possible evacuation.
“I was evacuated 10 years ago in the Hayman and I prepared,” she said. “Here it is 10 years later and I find I have more things and more choices to make. All my memories and my cats are now in my office. I couldn’t leave home on election day without knowing whether I would be able to go home and get my cats.”
Election Day was hard on everyone.
”It’s been a hard day for both the judges and the voters,” Jamison said. “Everyone was edgy, everyone was concerned. We all know someone who was impacted by this. With all the issues we dealt with, the fire multiplied them two fold.”