2020 general election update: Routt County adds new voting center, early voting options
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County is making several changes to prepare for the 2020 general election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The changes are in line with state legislation, passed in February, regarding voter service and polling centers.
Ballots get mailed to voters Oct. 9, according to Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kim Bonner. People then have the option to return their completed ballots in person, using a drop-box or mailing them. If people choose to mail their ballots, Bonner recommends doing so at least a week before Election Day, Nov. 3.
People who do not receive a ballot by Oct. 23 should contact the Routt County Clerk and Recorders Office at 970-870-5558.
For people who haven’t done so, they can register to vote online at vote.gov.
Routt County added a new drop-box location outside the Routt County Detention Center, 2025 Shield Drive, Steamboat Springs. Other locations include:
- The alley behind the Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
- Clark Store, 54175 Routt County Road 129, Clark
- Hayden Town Hall, 178 W. Jefferson Ave., Hayden
- Oak Creek Town Hall, 129 Nancy Crawford Blvd., Oak Creek
- Yampa Town Hall, 101 Main St., Yampa
The county also is allowing early voting. People can drop off ballots in person from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Routt County Courthouse Annex, 136 Sixth St. The annex also will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 24 and 31 to accommodate voters.
Voters also can submit ballots early at the Hayden and Oak Creek town halls.
An important thing to note is that the courthouse does not allow political campaigning within 100 feet of the building. This includes any clothing or face coverings with partisan messaging, according to Bonner. Anyone who shows up wearing a political T-shirt will be asked to turn it inside-out while in the courthouse, and anyone with a political face covering must use a disposable mask available inside.
On Nov. 2 and 3, Routt County is moving its voter service and polling center to the Steamboat Christian Center, 821 Dougherty Road. Bonner said the change allows more space for social distancing. The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov 3.
There will be more election judges and other volunteers than ever before to help with the process, according to Bonner.
These changes have been met with mixed reactions among local political party leaders.
Routt County Republicans Chair Pete Woods just learned of the changes Wednesday afternoon. He needed more time to digest the news, but said he did not understand why the county chose the Christian Center, on the south end of Steamboat, as the polling center for Election Day.
As Bonner explained during a Routt County Board of Commissioners Meeting earlier on Wednesday, more than 520 people voted in person at the courthouse in the 2016 general election. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the courthouse building is too small and cramped to safely accommodate all those people, she told the commissioners.
“We obviously needed a bigger place,” Bonner explained, and the Christian Center was one of the few places that would allow it.
Routt County Democrats Chair Catherine Carson expressed concern about traffic getting out of the Christian Center and back onto U.S. Highway 40. She hopes the county works with the city of Steamboat Springs and the Colorado Department of Transportation to conduct traffic control.
Asked about the traffic concern, Bonner said she and other officials plan to visit the site to evaluate the situation.
Both Woods and Carson expressed their appreciation for the extra work the Routt County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has done to conduct a fair and accurate election despite the pandemic.
To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.
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