By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

FOXFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – They say necessity is the mother of invention and nowhere was that more true on Municipal Election Day In Colorado than the small town of Foxfield. Like many small Colorado towns, it has mostly in-person voting.

“We’ve been brainstorming for weeks the best way to do this, and this is what we came up with” said Clerk Randi Gallivan.

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They came up with a polling place unlike any you’ve ever seen, complete with milk crates and dust pans attached to long poles so election judges, wearing gloves and face masks, could hand out and collect ballots from a distance. Gallivan says she initially tried to postpone the election.

“I started lobbying the governor’s office, Secretary of State.”

Only the state legislature has the authority to postpone most municipal elections, and it’s not in session so, in the new world of social distancing, Foxfield improvised. The town usually holds elections at its fire house, but because it’s closed to protect firefighters from COVID19, it held the election at a residency’s house.

Gallivan also issued 200 absentee ballots. The town has about 660 voters in all.

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“It’s wonderful,” said voter Cheryl Knibbe. She and her husband, Jan, are small business owners. He says this election is especially important.

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“Local elections obviously bring the local people that have a focus and attention to the special issues we’re dealing with.”

A crisis drives home just how much influence local governments have says State Rep. Jonathan Singer. His district includes Boulder County which was hit hard by the 2013 flood.

“It was local government, our city councils and town boards that got us back up and running. It was brick and mortar, it was housing, it was roads and bridges, they were the ones that sped up the permitting process to get people back up on their feet.”

From rebuilding an economy to reimagining a polling place, local governments have wide latitude and local elections are often decided by a slim margin. Gallivan says two years ago a race in Foxfield was decided by two votes.

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In addition to town councils and boards of trustees, there were four recall elections and 40 tax questions across Colorado in addition to a range of issues.

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Kevin Bommer, Executive Director of the Colorado Municipal League, says many clerks will wait a couple days before counting ballots to make sure, if coronavirus is on them, it dies before they handle the ballots.

Shaun Boyd