Revised Municipal Election Schedule & Format
Gypsum Also Moves Council Meetings to Call-In Only
Gypsum, Colorado, March 23, 2020 — Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Gypsum’s Municipal Election initially scheduled for April 7, 2020, will now take place July 7, 2020, and will convert to a mail-in ballot. Gypsum Town Council Meetings will also now take place as call-in only meetings for the immediate future.
“Mayor Carver has exercised his power to protect life and public health in the case of an extraordinary emergency and has postponed the Gypsum regular election and converted it to a mail ballot election. This decision came after the Mayor and I discussed that this action is the right thing to do during this pandemic,” says Gypsum Town Manager, Jeremy Rietmann, “Our goal in making this decision is to protect voter’s health and to adhere to the intent of Eagle County’s March 18 Public Health Order, while ensuring that Town voters can exercise their voting rights without fear for their health.”
The Town of Gypsum cites the following rationale for its decision to not only postpone the election but change the format from a polling place election to mail-in ballot election:
• All available county, state, and federal messaging is currently urging strict social distancing practices.
• Eagle County’s March 18, 2020 Public Health Order limits most activities to 10 or fewer people to achieve adequate social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
• A mail ballot format will ensure that all eligible electors will receive a ballot by mail and be able to return it by mail, which may increase voter turnout by reducing the amount of person-to-person contact in the voting process.
• Many election judges that may be used by Gypsum are considered to be people who are most “at-risk” of contracting and experiencing complications with this illness. (60+ and/or with preexisting health conditions).
• No matter the polling place set up, voter queuing and sequencing, and the sanitation procedures put in place, the risk of contributing to the spread of COVID-19 remains largely unknowable given so little is known about the disease right now.
• Given the current growth trends in illness transmission, many more people, including Town election personnel and voters, could be sick by election day, risking the town’s ability to run a sound election process.
• Moving the election out roughly 90 days and converting it to a mail-in election will create the best opportunity to ensure everyone can participate in the municipal election safely and without fear of coming to the polls.
Rietmann says he spoke with each of the seven candidates currently running for the three contested council seats and all agreed this is the right decision for the community. The bottom line, says Mayor Carver, “is that we’re going to hold our election and we want everybody to be able to participate.”
See the complete Election Postponement Emergency Declaration here.
Beginning Tuesday, March 24, 2020 the Gypsum Town Council meetings, which take place on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 7:00 p.m., will be call-in only to limit community transmission of COVID-19 to council members, staff, and audience members attending these meetings. The public is invited to call in to the meeting using the phone # listed below and on the town’s public meeting notice so that anyone who’d like to participate still has the opportunity to do so. Call, 1-408-418-9388 and use meeting number access code # 625 584 801 for the 3/24/20 meeting only. Access codes for future meetings will be listed in the public notice before each meeting.
“The audience on the phone line may listen to the council meeting and discussion as if sitting in the audience in the Council Chambers but will be on mute while the Council discusses agenda items. The audience will be unmuted when and if certain agenda items are open to public comment.” Describes Jim Hancock, Gypsum’s Assistant Town Manager. “We hope to move to a full video conference option in the future. However, after extensive testing, we found that the extra internet bandwidth being used by the community right now is creating video lag and delay problems that will distract and limit the quality of our discussion at a time when it is needed.”
These decisions come shortly after Gypsum Mayor, Steve Carver executed an order on March 18th, declaring a local disaster emergency in and for the Town of Gypsum in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This administrative procedure, authorized by the Town of Gypsum Home Rule Charter and the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, allows for actions by the local government to implement necessary prevention, preparation, and response needs in its jurisdiction during an emergency. The declaration activates the town’s plans for emergency situations for a seven-day period, ending on March 25, 2020. The full Council will consider an Ordinance on Tuesday evening confirming and extending the town’s emergency declaration to ensure the community remains eligible for any and all state and federal funding that may be available to the town due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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