Early votes, instant results | SteamboatToday.com

Early votes, instant results

Officials begin to count early ballots days before election

Brandon Gee

Election official Kim Bonner checks an electronic voting machine while setting up a polling station at the Routt County Courthouse Annex Building. Officials are preparing for a busy Election Day on Tuesday as voters head to the booth to decide who will be the next president of the United States.

With the touch of a button at 7 p.m. today, the votes of thousands of Routt County voters will be known and tallied.

With 60 percent of the county’s 17,850 registered voters voting early or requesting a mail-in ballot, the will of Routt County voters should be fairly evident shortly after the polls close. Although it’s illegal for election officials to “tally” votes before the polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, they are allowed to “process” ballots as early as 10 days before the election.

“We’ve been counting ballots for days,” Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said. “But the computer doesn’t give me an answer until 7 p.m. on election night. At 7 p.m. we’ll hit the button and know the numbers.”

At the Routt County Elections Office, Elections Supervisor Vicki Weber has been running ballots through an optical scanner for about a week under the supervision of surveillance cameras and a resolution board of election judges. The board also is tasked with determining voter intent on ballots flagged by the optical scanner.

Weinland said the county’s 4,469 early votes will be tallied immediately at 7 p.m. tonight. The county also issued 6,650 mail-in ballots. As of Friday night, 4,442 had been returned and processed. The speed with which all mail-in ballots are processed depends on when they are returned. Voters have until 7 p.m. tonight to return their mail-in ballots to the elections office on Lincoln Avenue near Sixth Street, behind the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

The high level of early and mail-in voting could mean a relatively early night of tabulating at the elections office, but Weinland said that will depend on how many voters choose to vote using paper ballots rather than electronic voting machines today. Weinland was more willing to say it will mean short lines. Weinland guessed the longest waits would be about 30 minutes, a far cry from the four-hour lines some Routt County voters experienced in 2006. To be allowed to cast a ballot, voters must be in line at their precinct polling place by 7 p.m. The polls open at 7 a.m.

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Steamboatpilot.com will be updated throughout the evening with voting information and results of local and regional races.

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10. If you still have a mail-in ballot, hand-deliver it to a designated drop-off location (Routt County Elections Office on Lincoln Avenue near Sixth Street, behind the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory). Ballots returned after 7 p.m. today won’t be counted.

9. If you have a mail-in ballot, don’t forget to sign the back of your return envelope.

8. If you have a mail-in ballot, review your ballot for stray marks or mistakes before returning it. If necessary, request a replacement ballot from your county clerk.

7. If you applied for an absentee ballot but have not received it, check GoVoteColorado.com to see when it was sent. If you have not received it before today and have not asked for a replacement ballot, then go vote at the polls.

6. If voting at the polls, make sure you have identification with you.

5. If you are voting at the polls, don’t expect to make your mind up in the voting booth; come prepared with a list of how you will be voting.

4. If you are voting at the polls, don’t wear anything referencing a candidate, ballot issue or party affiliation.

3. If you are voting at the polls, don’t discuss a candidate or ballot issue within 100 feet of your polling location.

2. If you are voting at the polls, find out where your polling location is by going to GoVoteColorado.com.

1. If you are voting at the polls and you do not show up as a registered voter, cast a provisional ballot. Your county clerk will have up to 14 days to establish whether you had a legal right to cast your ballot. To find out whether your vote was counted, go to GoVoteColorado.com after Nov. 18.