Like so many Coloradans, I had such unpleasant voting experiences the last two elections that this time around, I decided to do my civic duty well in advance of the first Tuesday in November. I requested a mail-in ballot and received it a couple of weeks ago -- but after hearing all the hoopla about early voting, I decided to give that method a whirl. I'm registered in Jefferson County, so I found a page on the Jeffco website directing me to early voting centers and chose the one at 2099 Wadsworth because I pass near it on my way home from work. Then I headed there yesterday afternoon to see how the system worked -- and despite the fact that I didn't get to vote, I give the process two enthusiastic thumbs up.
When I arrived at the address, which turned out to be a Jefferson County Motor Vehicles department office, its parking lot was only moderately full, and the only political display I saw was mighty unlikely. Here it is:
Inside the office, a Motor Vehicle employee directed me to the west side of the room, where a dozen or so voting stations were arrayed along the wall, with only two of them occupied. Next, I was pointed to a volunteer who was friendly and helpful, albeit a bit slow of movement; he made John McCain seem spry and youthful.
After I filled out the form he gave me and handed him my driver's license, he looked for my name in the computer system -- and when he found it, he saw that I'd asked for a mail-in ballot. This baffled him, so he passed me to another staffer, who explained that because of my earlier request, I either had to use the ballot I'd already received or vote provisionally -- something which I'd been forced to do last year because of equipment problems at my polling station and hadn't enjoyed in the slightest. So I told her I'd vote that evening (which I did, at my kitchen table) and drop off the completed ballot there the following afternoon.
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While heading toward the exit, I asked the second volunteer if the center had been busy. The word she used in reply was "steady" -- but there was absolutely no waiting during the ten minutes or thereabouts I was there. So if you've already requested a mail-in ballot, fill it out and drop it off at a voting center -- and if you haven't, vote early. Judging by my experience, it's hassle-free -- and that certainly wasn't the case in 2004 and 2006. -- Michael Roberts