Clerk: Only 5 percent of voters have completed, returned ballots |

Clerk: Only 5 percent of voters have completed, returned ballots

Less than 700 completed ballots received; 1,022 undeliverable

Mike Lawrence

— A week after ballots began arriving in mailboxes, only about 5 percent of Routt County voters have returned a completed ballot for this year’s election.

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said that as of Wednesday afternoon, her office had received only 682 of the 13,440 ballots sent to voters in Routt County’s first mail-only election. Signatures on those ballots have been verified, and the ballots have been scanned into the voter registration system, Weinland said.

“We’ve had a few signatures that didn’t match,” Weinland said. Elections supervisor Vicki Weber has said her staff is contacting voters with ballots that have unverified signatures.

Weinland said local U.S. Postal Service branches returned 1,022 ballots to the county as “undeliverable.” Postal employees were not able to send those ballots to voters because of problems including out-of-date addresses or addresses that didn’t match the voter. The Postal Service cannot forward ballots because of security reasons, Weinland said.

Steamboat Springs Postmaster Tim O’Brien is out of town for the week for a training session. Interim Postmaster Carol Lobello is filling his role. She confirmed Thursday that postal employees are returning undeliverable ballots to the county, but she declined to comment further.

Weinland acknowledged that the mail-only election is revealing some addresses that have long been out of date. On Thursday, a man came into the Elections Office and discovered that his address had not been updated for five years, Weinland said. The man could have voted at physical polling locations in previous elections, Weinland said, without updating his address.

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That is not the case with mail-only ballots.

“We’re getting our registration rolls cleaned up,” Weinland said.

She said her office can mail ballots through Tuesday. Voters who need to update their addresses or request a replacement ballot can find those forms at Voters can fax completed forms to the Elections Office at 970-870-5443, Weinland said, and her office will mail a ballot to the voter’s correct address through Tuesday. Voters who fax a change-of-address or ballot request form must include the completed, original forms with their mailed ballot, Weinland said.

Voters also can stop by the Elections Office on the third floor of the Routt County Courthouse, between Fifth and Sixth streets on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs.

That office is closed Friday but is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, through the Nov. 3 election. Weinland said the office also will be open during those hours Oct. 30.

Voters can get a replacement ballot and vote at the Elections Office until 7 p.m. on Election Day. The office can be reached by phone at 970-870-5558.

Weinland said the 682 returned ballots do not include ballots placed in drop-boxes in Hayden, Oak Creek or Yampa. The figure includes ballots dropped off at her office and at the Clark Store in North Routt County.

“We will pick them up first thing Monday morning from Hayden,” she said.

Her staff might wait a few more days to check the two South Routt County boxes, Weinland said, because South Routt voters have nothing to vote on this year and are not receiving ballots.

Weinland said elections staff have not begun to count votes scanned into the system. That process could start Monday, she said, depending on the number of votes received.

She encouraged voters to not procrastinate and to send in their ballots as soon as possible to help the Elections Office avoid a last-minute rush. Weinland said she expects the number of completed ballots to pick up soon.

“We got a good stack in the mail today,” Weinland said Thursday. “I expect that we’ll get a large volume back next week.”

Election 2009 key dates and notes

– Ballots have been mailed to all active Routt County registered voters. If you’re an active voter and your voter registration information is current, you don’t need to request a ballot. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward ballots. If you haven’t received a ballot and think you should have, call the Routt County Elections Office at 970-870-5558.

– Tuesday, Oct. 27, is the last day to request a ballot be mailed to you.

– There are five drop-off locations in Routt County for voters to submit their completed ballots: Routt County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, Yampa Town Hall, Oak Creek Town Hall, Hayden Town Hall and the Clark Store.

– All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Nov. 3. Voters should not mail their ballots after Thursday, Oct. 29.

– Voters will receive ballots specific to where they live. For example, South Routt residents won’t receive ballots because there are no contested school board races or city elections there.

– Voters who have any questions about the mail-in ballot process should call the Elections Office at 870-5558.

– Electronic voting is available for disabled voters or any voter who chooses to vote electronically, at the Elections Office on the third floor of the Routt County Courthouse.