Early voting numbers strong | SteamboatToday.com

Early voting numbers strong

If early voting is any indication, the turnout for Tuesday’s election should be above average.

Routt County Clerk Kay Weinland said the number of early votes often is a predictor of Election Day turnout.

Early voting ends today, and Weinland said Thursday that about 1,000 people have cast votes in Routt County.

“So far, we are a little ahead of previous years. We have been a little busier,” she said.

Early voting began Oct. 20. Voting booths have been set up at the Routt County Courthouse for early voting. Weinland said about 200 absentee ballots have been sent in, and about 800 people have voted early at the courthouse.

In a year when the most heated races are for Steamboat Springs School Board and City Council seats, Weinland said the numbers are good. The highest voter turnout comes in even-numbered years, when there are presidential or congressional races on the ballot.

“I think there is less interest in a school district director position because it just doesn’t have the political clout a position in the state Senate or U.S. Senate has,” Weinland said.

She also said the dollars spent on the partisan and higher-office races could affect voter turnout.

Last year’s election included a gubernatorial race and U.S. Senate race. The county had just more than 1,800 early votes cast. The 2002 election brought in more than 7,000 votes.

In 2001, which featured four contested City Council races, there were 1,150 early votes cast. The total for that year was close to 5,000, which Weinland had considered strong for an odd-numbered year election.

The early voting number in 2001 was almost double that of 1999, which featured just 601 early voters. The 1999 election, when the Downtown Development Authority failed, drew 2,500 total votes.

In 2000 during the presidential race, the county had a record turnout year with 9,682 voters.

About 16,000 people are registered to vote in Routt County.

The early votes cannot be counted until Election Day, and the results cannot be released until the polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Weinland said voters should remember to bring an ID with them when going to the polls, a new requirement.

“Don’t forget to vote,” she said.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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