To say that this is a busy time of year for Patty Jaimes is a classic understatement.
As Douglas County Clerk, Mrs. Jaimes also serves as election officer for the Nov. 6 general election. This election has been particularly involved, she said.
"This has been one of the most complicated elections," said Mrs. Jaimes, who took office in 1981. "We've received a lot of calls on the ballot questions, but we can't hand out sample ballots except for educational purposes."
And as with any big happening, it takes months to prepare for a one-day event. Those months have dwindled to less than a week now, but Mrs. Jaimes' schedule has stayed full. Currently, the main focus of her work is absentee voting, which is going at a record pace.
PEOPLE WANTING to vote absentee may still do so, Mrs. Jaimes said. For people planning to be out of town on Election Day, noon Monday is the deadline to request an absentee ballot. The deadline for people who are sick or incapacitated is noon Tuesday. All absentee ballots must be returned to the clerk's office by 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Mrs. Jaimes said that if someone was unable to come to her office for an absentee ballot, then another registered voter could do so for that person.
Requests for absentee ballots have exceeded the number cast in 1986, the state's last gubernatorial election. Mrs. Jaimes said that 758 ballots had been requested this week, compared to 731 cast four years ago. Since absentee ballots are considered as a barometer of voter interest, she predicts the county voter turnout to exceed the 61.6 percent from 1986.
Another event associated with the election is a one-hour school for election workers at 2 p.m Friday in the County Commission meeting room in the County Courthouse. Mrs. Jaimes said that there were 255 poll workers and another six people who will handle the absentee ballots who are scheduled to attend the school.
BEYOND Election Day, an event that costs from $35,000 to $40,000, Mrs. Jaimes' schedule will remain abnormal for about two weeks, she said. The Friday after the election is when the votes are canvassed by Mrs. Jaimes and the county commission. Any noticeable errors could trigger an immediate recount, she said. Candidates will then have until the Monday after the election to request a recount, which may have to be done by hand.
Making the election even more complicated, she said, has been the recent lawsuit concerning the prohibition of write-in candidates only in the governor's race. A federal judge was expected to make a decision on the case earlier this week.