Douglas County Dems, GOP trust voting process

Officials recommend voting early and using drop boxes

Elliott Wenzler
ewenzler@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 10/9/20

While opposite ends of the political spectrum in Douglas County may not agree on much, they do seem to agree on one thing: Residents can trust the voting system here. In a series of interviews with …

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Douglas County Dems, GOP trust voting process

Officials recommend voting early and using drop boxes

Merlin Klotz, the Douglas County clerk and recorder, poses for a portrait in front of one of the county's ballot drop boxes.
Merlin Klotz, the Douglas County clerk and recorder, poses for a portrait in front of one of the county's ballot drop boxes.
Photo by Elliott Wenzler
Posted

While opposite ends of the political spectrum in Douglas County may not agree on much, they do seem to agree on one thing: Residents can trust the voting system here.

In a series of interviews with Colorado Community Media, representatives of the local Republican and Democratic parties said they take no issue with how ballots are being processed in Douglas County. County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz said despite the national narrative about concerns around mail-in ballots, to him and his staff, this year is no different than past elections.

“In light of all the public noise that’s out there right now,” Klotz said, “it’s business as usual.”

Klotz, a Republican, said the panic among some surrounding the voting system in Colorado is totally unnecessary. 

“I think there’s a lot of hype out there that’s scaring people about the mail-out ballot,” he said. “In some states I’d have to agree, but not in Colorado.”

Andy Jones, a spokesman for the county GOP, said he’s not concerned at all about the process in Douglas County.

“I feel very confident when I turn in my ballot,” he said. 

Karen Duggan, communications manager for the county’s Democratic Party, also said she feels the system here is secure and that her fellow Democrats agree.

“The issue of mail-in ballot security is not a problem for anyone that I’ve spoken with on the Democratic side,” she said. “I have complete faith in (Democratic Secretary of State) Jena Griswold.”

Klotz expects that because of the amount of disinformation regarding the election, he and his staff may see more people show up to the county’s 20 in-person voting places. Usually, only 5% of Douglas County voters choose this option, he said.

“We have no idea what kind of space constraints we could run into,” he said. “There could be lines unnecessarily.”

Jones said he has heard from quite a few Republican voters in the county who are asking about how to vote in person. 

The county may also see an influx of poll watchers, a group of volunteers representing a political party who monitor an election. The Trump campaign is asking for volunteers to sign up to take on this role throughout the country, but Klotz said this isn’t as needed in Colorado as it is in other states.

“The Trump campaign has just taken a one-size fits all view of elections,” he said.

Generally, Klotz is hearing more questions about voter security this election, he said. 

“We probably are seeing 50% more people walking in with questions,” Klotz said. “But I don’t know of any who have walked away who didn’t have their questions answered.”

For those concerned about their ballot being counted, Klotz recommends signing up for the state’s “Track Your Ballot” program. More information on that is available at DouglasVotes.com.

He also asks residents to get their ballot in early and says the most secure way to do it is to drop it off at one of the county’s 20 ballot boxes rather than mailing it. The steel ballot boxes are surveilled 24 hours a day, he said.

“They are extremely secure,” he said. “And then we send out a team of dissimilar parties, a Democrat and Republican or an unaffiliated with a Democrat or Republican to pick those ballots up. All the way through the process, that ballot has a dissimilar pair of people carrying that ballot.”

Jones agrees. 

“We feel confident that if people vote informed and vote early that they will see their ballots are being counted,” he said. 

While Duggan feels some concerns about having an outspoken Republican as the county’s clerk and recorder, she believes the system is secure, she said.

“There are enough safeguards and double checks and all of that, that I do still have faith that our ballots will be processed,” she said.

Klotz said that while he’s elected with his party affiliation, his role as clerk and recorder is separate.

“I’m not allowed to touch election equipment or ballots,” he said. “I stay two steps removed.”

Votes will begin to be counted at 7 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 3. Then, voters whose signatures weren’t matched with an already-existing signature in the state’s database will have a chance to cure their ballot. This process lasts until Nov. 12. Voters who need to cure their ballot will receive either an email or a letter informing them on next steps for having their vote counted.

Klotz wants to leave the voters with two main messages: Vote early and “don’t get confused."

“Don’t let the national narrative confuse you,” he said. “Our system is very sound.”

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