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Early voting forecasts big primary

Susan Cunningham

If early voting numbers are any sign, this primary election is going to be a busy one.

When the early voting polls closed Friday, 563 voters had cast their votes early or requested absentee ballots.

“They’re just very passionate about this election, and that’s good,” said Vicki Weber, Routt County elections deputy. “We can see that in early voting right now.”

Of those voting, 132 Democrats and 251 Republicans voted early. Absentee ballots had been requested by 77 Democrats and 103 Republicans.

In 2002, when there were no contested elections, 154 people voted absentee or early. This year, more than triple that number have come out, said Kay Weinland, Routt County clerk.

“To me, that indicates that we’re going to have a triple turnout at the precincts,” Weinland said.

Weinland is encouraging all voters who didn’t vote early or absentee to cast their votes for the primary election Tuesday.

Weinland stressed that unaffiliated voters can affiliate at the polls and vote in the primary election and then can change their status back to unaffiliated after they leave. About a third of the county’s registered voters are unaffiliated, she said.

“A lot of unaffiliated voters don’t want to be involved, but this is an important decision for all of us, not just party people,” she said.

During early voting, there were a number of voters who changed their affiliation or affiliated at the polls, she said.

A large voter turnout is expected for the primaries this year because of local and statewide contested elections.

This year, for the Republican party, there are two contested county commissioner primary races: Bea Westwater is challenging incumbent Nancy Stahoviak in District 1, while Jeff Fry and Mark Marchus are facing off in District 2.

There also is a five-way race for the chance to be on the November ballot for the District 3 House of Representatives seat.

For the Democratic party, the primary race for U.S. senator between Mike Miles and Ken Salazar could increase turnout.

The primary election will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. For the primary, precincts have been combined, so voters should be sure to double check where they need to go to vote.

Voters need to remember to bring identification, as required by a recent state law. Driver’s licenses are one easy type of identification to bring, but a U.S. Passport, current utility bill or Medicare and Medicaid cards, among other types, also are accepted.

Those voting by absentee ballots must have their ballots back to the courthouse by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com


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