Early voting is quick and easy -- even though they didn't let me do it

The early voting center at 20th and Wadsworth.

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.

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

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts