BLACK FOREST, Colo. - The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office said Monday some Black Forest residents may have inadvertently disqualified themselves from voting in the upcoming election for the Black Forest Fire Board.
Fewer than 200 people voted in the last fire board election. However, recently controversy surrounding the Black Forest Fire Board and Fire Chief Bob Harvey is expected to draw large voter turnout.
"Typically special districts there is not a lot to incentivize people to get out but it might be different definitely in this election," said Chief Deputy Chuck Broerman with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office.
There are 7,000 people who can vote in the election but 1,000 voters are currently inactive in the system. That means they won't have access to a mail-in ballot unless they change their mailing information.
The election on May 6 with be a mail-in ballot election. Under new election rules, ballots cannot be forwarded to temporary addresses like other mail.
Seth Whitworth works for a political organization supporting three of the candidates.
"We want to see every potential voter be able to get out there and vote," said Whitworth. "Not being able to because their information was wrong would be very tragic so we want to make sure everyone has excess to that ballot."
KRDO NewsChannel 13 contacted fire board secretary Donna Arkowski for an interview. She is overseeing May's special election. She did not return the interview request.
See below for information provided by the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office in a press release on how to verify voter information:
"Displaced Black Forest residents living in a temporary home but who intend to move back to their Black Forest address -- and therefore could be eligible to vote in the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District election -- must have their Black Forest address listed as their residential address. In order to receive a mail ballot for the May 6 election, they must have their temporary address listed only as their mailing address.
Some displaced citizens have changed their voter registration to show both "Residence" and "Mailing" as their temporary address. They will not receive a ballot unless "Residence" shows their Black Forest home. Other displaced citizens have not updated their voter registration at all. Since there may be no mail delivery to a destroyed residence in Black Forest, they may not receive a ballot.
Voters should go to the website www.GoVoteColorado.com or come to one of the Clerk and Recorder offices to update their voter registration. This must be done by 11:59 p.m. on April 14 in order to receive a mail ballot for the election.
Black Forest voters who do not meet this deadline to update their registration may still be able to receive a ballot. From April 14 through May 5, Monday-Friday, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., those voters can go to Black Forest Fire Station One (11445 Teachout Road) to fill out a "Request for Mail Ballot" form. The fire district's Designated Election Official will issue ballot packets to voters who are eligible to vote in the Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District Board Election.
It is also important to note if you place an address change with the USPS, that information will be received by the Clerk and Recorder's Office and your voter registration will be updated using this information under the requirements of a new state law. To avoid that from occurring, please contact our office immediately and we will provide you with additional information on how to prevent this from happening in the future.
The Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District election is conducted by the Designated Election Official for the district. The Clerk and Recorder's Office is assisting in disseminating information to the public in conjunction with the Public Information Officer for the district to ensure all Black Forest displaced voters have an opportunity to vote in the May 6 election."