Voters Carve a Path on Super Tuesday
It’s Super Tuesday, one of the biggest dates on the political primary calendar when voters in 14 states, including Colorado, cast their ballots. According to a report released yesterday, March 2 by Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold, 1,226,276 voters have already sent in their ballots; 951 of those were Lake County voters.
But what if your candidate dropped out of the race? Can you cast another ballot?
“They are not able to vote again,” Griswold reminded voters as the Democratic Presidential Primary field began to change after the South Carolina primary saw a couple of contenders drop out of the race.
“Even if they have already returned a ballot for a candidate who has withdrawn, voters are NOT allowed to cast a second ballot.” However, for those procrastinators or maybe voters who like to see who’s still standing in the 11th hour before Super Tuesday, “voters who have filled out a ballot but not returned it can change their selection by crossing off the name of their first pick and marking the oval next to their preferred candidate before dropping it in a drop-box or returning it in person.”
Or, these voters can also get a new ballot and vote in-person at a Voter Service and Polling Center. To check ballot status or to find the nearest Voter Service and Polling Center, please visit www.GoVoteColorado.gov.
Turnout for the Colorado Presidential Primary could be record-setting, with clerks anticipating a high volume of ballots returned today and tomorrow. Ballots may be returned via drop-box – locally located in the Lake County Courthouse in downtown Leadville – before 7 p.m. on Tuesday (today!).
Lake County Justice Center: Take Two!
The following press release was distributed to media outlets on February 25 by Katy Welter, Justice Center Task Force Facilitator.
Lake County is moving ahead with due diligence activities toward building a new justice center. On Feb. 28, 2020, the county was scheduled to select a contractor to conduct preliminary due diligence activities at up to three locations owned by Lake County or third parties, according to a press release distributed by a representative from the recently formed Justice Center Task Force.
The due diligence services will help to determine these sites’ feasibility for a proposed justice center facility, including jail and courthouse. The contractor will evaluate the infrastructure available and the costs to provide infrastructure at each site, conduct a preliminary traffic study, and evaluate each site’s appropriateness to house the justice center.
Lake County issued a Request for Proposals on Feb. 20, 2020, for professional architectural services to provide a facility needs assessment for a future jail and courthouse and initial schematic design. The full RFP is available in the Finance Director’s office, Room 115, and at Lake County’s website. Proposals are due by March 13, 2020, with a selection made by March 20, 2020. All work is expected to be complete by July 31, 2020.
Lake County recently engaged the environmental law firm of Landmark Environmental to provide environmental services, also part of the due diligence needed to select the best site.
Why a New Justice Center
Colorado law requires each community to provide a jail. Yet the Lake County jail remains closed due to security concerns, with all inmates housed in neighboring counties and Denver. Lake County is spending more than $540,000 in direct costs each year to house and transport inmates to neighboring counties and Denver, transport probation officers to client meetings, and rent probation offices.
“Sheriff’s deputies are stretched thin, and transporting inmates is risky for deputies and inmates,” said Sheriff Amy Reyes. “In addition, with the space limitations of our current building, Lake County cannot provide community programmings such as mediation and probation support,” Reyes said. “These are proven to reduce costs, improve justice, and bring better outcomes for community members.”
“The justice center is a top priority for the Board of County Commissioners in 2020,” said Lake County Commissioner Kayla Marcella. “In addition to the critical challenges with the jail, the courthouse does not meet current security standards and is too small to meet community needs. With just one courtroom and full dockets, hearings and trials for civil and criminal matters must be delayed, which also delays justice for those involved.”
The courtroom challenges have a significant impact on community members; over the past five years, one court case has been filed for every three households in Lake County, on average.
Lake County and members of the Justice Center Task Force have extensively researched several sites for a new facility and narrowed the options to three possible locations. They continue to thoroughly investigate the costs, legal considerations, and feasibility of building on the candidate sites. The BOCC expects to choose a site by this summer, after vetting environmental concerns.
Next steps include applying for more grants, to reduce the costs to Lake County taxpayers. Lake County received three grants totaling $285,000 in 2019 and expects to apply for more than $1 million in 2020. Here’s where the money has come from so far:
- $25,000 – Department of Local Affairs Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund – Administrative Planning Grant
- $200,000 – Department of Local Affairs Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance – Tier I Grant
- $60,000 – Underfunded Courthouse Facility Commission – Underfunded Courthouse Facility Grant
To fund the remaining project costs, the BOCC and task force members are exploring all possibilities. Once a site is chosen and construction costs are known, the task force will share those figures and funding options with the public. Citizens with an interest in this issue are invited to join the Justice Center Task Force meetings, held the third Wednesday of each month from 9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Coronado Café at CMC Leadville. The next meeting is March 18, 2020. – END –
Throwback to the 2016 Vote: Some Background
In 2016, the Lake County Justice Center was presented to voters in the form of Referendum 1A asking for their approval on a 1.5 % sales tax increase over the next 25 years to cover the costs of building a new facility. In November 2016, Lake County residents had their say, voting down the measure by a margin of 14.8%, sending local officials back to the drawing board for ways to build a new county jail and courthouse facility. Four years later, local officials from a number of different entities and organizations are meeting once again to explore their options.
The following is a video from the 2016 campaign trail. LT also inquired whether the task force would be using any 21st-century technologies like social media or a web site in order to relay information to residents. At this point, they are not, choosing instead to require residents to attend a mid-morning meeting every third Wednesday to stay apprised of another tax-driven new facility project likely to cost millions.
The last go-round in 2016, the Lake County Justice Center efforts did have a Facebook Page, which was still active as of March 3, more than three and a half years after the (failed) vote, with no new posts, only a “to be continued” message. But at the very least, the page gave the voting public a platform to ask questions and have them be answered in an open-source setting. As of today, attending the meetings or emailing the facilitators identified in the story of the only means of communication.