We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Vote

Yesterday I spent the day at my polling place as an election judge. There is no live blogging at a polling place if you are an election judge so I kept some brief notes on my impressions.The polling place was in a church and was a new polling place from previous years with a lot more precincts in one place (11 total).  The new location did cause a bit of confusion for some people but they did show up. The changes in process were a little confusing–supplies a bit harder to find, steps missed (e.g. signing all the staff forms). Perhaps we should review the book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.

There were 5 receiving judges, 3 ballot judges, 2 provisional judges, 2 touch screen judges, 1 polling place coordinator and 1 clerk and recorder staff member. There were 22 Vote-a-matic voting booths (38 delivered, 22 set up), 4 touch screens, 2 AccuVote machines and 1 mail-in ballot box for those who hadn’t put their mail-in ballots in the mail. Their was 1 poll watcher who was keeping track of who voted so he could go back and call those who hadn’t shown up yet who were likely supporters of his candidate (Andrew Romanoff). With all of this humanity and equipment and the fact that there was a bandstand set up with drums and keyboard–it  November, we are going to need a bigger amount a space then–hopefully we can disassemble the bandstand.

Contrary to my expectations there was a constant stream of voters all day long with no major gaps. There was a mini-crowd at 7:00am when the polls opened and again around lunch-time and by 2:15 there was still a steady stream. There was a 4pm rush; at 4:30 someone noted that the place smelled like airplane air–and the fans that we had in lieu of A/C did not help. Someone commented that “this was the busiest primary I’ve ever seen…in Colorado.” By 5:30 it got busier yet and by 5:45pm we were slammed! Finally it began easing up around 6:10…but we did have one last voter walk in at about 6:59pm just before the polls closed.

Here are some key points that came out of the primary:

  • A number of people did change from unaffiliated to a party to vote in the  Primary
  • We did need a handful of provisional ballots for people who were signed up as mail-in ballots who either didn’t meant to or changed their minds.
  • There were a LOT more Republican voters than Democrats–but that is not surprising given what we know of the voting population.
  • Despite a primary race for Libertarians, we only had ONE Libertarian ballot–and that was someone who changed from unaffiliated just to vote in the Primary.
  • Republican voters in precinct 74 are avid voters. By far, they had the most paper ballots–being the only precinct to go over 50 ballots.

Democrats–we’re going to need a bigger vote in November if we hope to hold or gain offices. Despite my efforts we only had 7 ballots in my precinct (282) with precinct 333 having the highest number of blue paper ballots at 8.

In November, when I hope to see MANY more of you, we need a bigger space–by removing the bandstand– and a whole lot MORE Dems showing up at the polls. I look forward to seeing you there!


Primary Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Polling Place

Freshly back from my election judge training, I’m reminded of the french saying “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”  (the more things change, the more they stay the same) and my variation on it: “plus ça change, plus c’est change” (The more things change, the more they change).  Well there are a few changes to how the primaries will be run this year in El Paso County, Colorado. Some you may like, some you may not.

Polling places

There will be fewer of them and they will serve more precincts. Last year many more polling places served a single precinct and the average was probably four precincts per polling place. This year, there are only 15 polling places left that serve a single precinct. One unnamed polling place will serve 20 precincts. Of course, in 2009 the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder split a number of existing precincts up so we have more precincts.

Your precinct may well have moved. The Clerk’s office has sent out voter cards (actually sheets of paper) with your polling place address. Check it carefully! One trend has been to move them out of schools and into churches. Reasons given include the need for bigger spaces, not wanting to implement new security requirements by school districts who are more concerned and not interfering with first day of school conflicting with the Primary date.


When you go to your polling place, you need to sign the Signature Poll Book after providing ID and verifying your information in the book. In past elections you had to find the recieving table associated with your precinct to do this which, if there are multiple precincts and you are like most people, is challenging because, really, who remembers their precinct number (282 for me!)? This year they decided that you could probably remember your last name, so each polling place will have one receiving table with the names for all voters in all the precincts served are listed alphabetically. This is the second major win for the Alphabet in a political even this year (cf County Democratic Assembly) and could signal the start of a streak.

Drop-off your Mail-In Ballot

I know it says “mail” in Mail-In, but every year people show up at polling places, having forgotten to put their mail-in ballot in the, er, mail. In the past, we had to explain that they needed to drive into Colorado Springs and drop them off at the Centennial Hall offices of the Clerk & Recorder before 7pm to have them count. This did not make for a happy forgetful mail-in electorate. Well, they can now rejoice because even in their forgetfulness or procrastination, we will take care of them. You can drop of your mail-in ballot at any polling place in your county. I’m told this is true across all of Colorado. Hurray for common sense.

More Parties

The polling place will have primary ballots for three parties: Democratic, Republican and Libertarian. It turns out that all three have contested elections.

Plus c’est la même chose

But mostly, if history is any lesson, things will be very similar this year, with a lower turnout in the Primary than the General; many people mailing in their mail-in ballots, and a raft of highly trained, nearly volunteer (we get $140 to work from 6am to 8pm or more), election judges helping to keep the wheels of Democracy turning smoothly.

If you come to the polling places, check your location, bring your ID and thank an Election Judge.

More info

If you have any questions please contact the Election Department at (719) 575-VOTE (8683) or visit the website at
To find out your precinct number, go to and click on Verify/Update record. Simply type in your First and Last Names, Zipcode and Birthdate and you will get a long list of information about your voter registration information. Number 10 on the number list will give you a precinct number like this: 5042021282 of which the last three digits are your actual precinct number. You can tell where your polling place is (if you can’t find your Voter Card) by looking at Primary Poll Place.pdf.
For TriLakes residents the include:
  • Monument Town Hall (Precincts 76, 336)
  • Monument Community Presbyterian Church (Precincts 136,260,265,349)
  • TriLakes United Methodist Church (Precincts 181, 290,309,339,404)
  • Trinity Lutheran Church (Precincts 74,192,247,282,300,333,355,372,401,402,403)
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