40 percent of Routt County voters turn out in final 2 days of 2013 election | SteamboatToday.com

40 percent of Routt County voters turn out in final 2 days of 2013 election

Mark Shillingburg fills out his ballot Tuesday inside the Routt County Courthouse. Officials at the elections office said a steady stream of voters were coming through the doors Tuesday to drop off ballots and cast their votes in the 2013 election.
John F. Russell

— The traditionalists came out to vote in Steamboat Springs on Monday and Tuesday.

Routt County Clerk Kay Weinland said as of 4:40 p.m. on Election Day that 6,797 people had cast ballots in Routt County, 1,250 of which arrived Monday and 1,447 of which were brought to the courthouse Tuesday. So, 39.7 percent of all ballots cast by that hour had arrived in the final two days of voting in the all-mail ballot election. And still more people were trooping into the north door of the courthouse as they stopped to vote on their way home from work.

Ultimately, 7,321 people cast ballots, representing 46 percent of eligible voters.

“It’s been crazy today, but it’s always busy on Election Day,” Weinland said. “And we’re excited because this is what we needed to see.”

The Routt County Clerk and Recorder’s Office sent 15,923 ballots to registered voters in the middle of October.

Tuesday’s voter turnout represented 500 fewer voters than cast ballots in the last odd-year election in 2011, when a record turnout of 7,826 voters cast ballots. Voter turnout in the two elections cannot be compared meaningfully on a percentage basis because in 2011, the clerk’s office mailed ballots to only active voters, for a total of 11,735. In 2013, the clerk’s office was required by a change in the state’s election law to mail ballots to all 15,923 registered voters.

In 2011, voters were drawn to three contested Steamboat Springs City Council races compared with just one this year. And there were hot-button local ballot questions in 2011, including questions about whether to ban medical marijuana dispensaries and grow centers. In Steamboat, a very active campaign for a 0.25 percent general sales tax to support winter airline service also drew people to the polls, and voters passed that question by a large margin.

Also in 2011, the West Routt Fire Protection District sought to increase its property tax levy by 3.5 mills, which failed. The fire district returned to voters this year with a more modest proposal that passed by a narrow margin.

The 2014 general election promises to have broader appeal with U.S. Senate and congressional races as well as a gubernatorial election. Elected posts will be up for grabs in Routt County. There also will be a June 24 primary election in 2014.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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