Today is Election Day, and while the range of candidate and issue contests are not nearly so far-flung as those considered in 2012, there are serious and important local and state races underway on the all-mail ballot. Voters should take the time to weigh in, and be sure to drop off their ballots, or cast a vote in person, by 7 p.m. this evening.
Ballots in La Plata County will ask voters a range of questions about critical state issues as well as local topics and candidates. Two statewide ballot initiatives, Amendment 66 and Proposition AA ask voters to allow the state to collect more taxes – on incomes for K-12 education, and on sales of recreational marijuana. Both are complex, important questions that warrant voters’ attention. City of Durango voters will decide whether to repeal an ordinance that would charge a fee for plastic and paper bags at some large retailers. There are a number of local fire district-related questions – concerning the Durango Fire Protection District as well as the Upper Pine Fire Protection District. Both the Bayfield and Durango school boards have multiple seats to fill, and these are essential community functions that have long-term implications for each respective school district. Durango School District 9-R is also seeking to reduce the size of its board from seven members to five, and voters will decide that question. Additionally, there are several ballot questions concerning localized districts such as the Palo Verde Public Improvement District as well as the Pine River Cemetery District. Residents of these districts should weigh in on how they operate.
Voter turnout in off-year elections is historically lackluster and this year is proving to be no exception. As of Thursday morning, La Plata County Clerk Tiffany Parker reported that just 22 percent of mail ballots had been returned.
“I anticipated a lot higher turnout due to what we have on our ballot. It’s surprisingly low,” Parker said.
It is not too late to remedy that, and voters should make it a point to return their mail ballots – by hand, not mail – by 7 p.m. today, or vote in person from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at one of the county’s election centers at the county clerk’s office, 98 Everett St. Suite C, Durango; La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave., Durango; or Bayfield Town Hall, 1199 Bayfield Parkway. If voting in person, some form of identification is required.
Mail ballots can also be dropped off at the Ignacio Town Hall, the Fort Lewis Mesa fire station and the La Plata County Courthouse in downtown Durango. Those locations are for mail ballots only and do no provide for in-person voting.
The issues and races on La Plata County ballots require careful consideration and warrant voters’ attention. Cast your ballot by 7 p.m. today to participate in democracy’s essential activity.