As Election Day dawns in Aspen, unprecedented in March instead of May, early voting returns were pacing ahead of the most recent municipal vote in 2017.
As of the end of Monday, 2,010 voters had returned ballots that were mailed out in mid-February. An early voting polling station has been in the clerk’s office in city hall since Feb. 19.
In the last municipal election, on the day before Election Day, 1,887 had voted.
Polls will close at 7 p.m. today, and ballots can be dropped off in the clerk’s office on the second floor of city hall. Deputy city clerk Nicole Henning said she hopes to have full results posted around 8 p.m.
Aspen voted in November to amend the city charter so that municipal elections would take place on the first Tuesday in March instead of the first Tuesday in May.
Proponents of the move argued that moving the election from off-season to the peak of ski season would lead to more participation. Too many voters are out of town in early May and are thus disenfranchised, proponents of ballot measure 2A argued.
The highest-ever turnout in an Aspen election was 2009, when 2,544 voted, according to clerk’s office records. The 2015 election, which featured a ballot referendum limiting city council’s power to grant zoning variances, was close behind with 2,542 voters. (See chart for turnout in the past six municipal elections.)
In the council race, planning commissioner Skippy Mesirow, incumbent Councilman Bert Myrin, former mayor and county commissioner Rachel Richards, and city clerk Linda Manning are running for two open seats. The mayor’s race is between sitting Councilman Adam Frisch, sitting Councilwoman Ann Mullins, former councilman Torre and political newcomer Cale Mitchell.
Also on the ballot is the referendum on a plan that would remake the western base of Aspen Mountain. The Lift One corridor project includes two hotels, a new ski lift replacing Lift 1A reaching Dean Street and a ski history museum. Detractors point to an upzoning of land designated for low-density development, a reduced affordable housing program and a $4.36 million taxpayer subsidy to pay for elements of the project.
Check the Aspen Daily News website after the polls close for results. GrassRoots TV is hosting a live election special from city hall, beginning at 7:30 p.m., hosted by Lorenzo Semple, an Aspen Daily News columnist, and Roger Marolt, an Aspen Times columnist.
Editor's note: This article initially failed to list Torre as a candidate for mayor and has been updated.