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Early voting sees jump

Turnout could have ramifications for 3-2-1 transportation tax proposal

Avi Salzman

— With one day left for early and absentee voting, the number of people who have already cast their ballots is twice what it was two years ago.

Today is the final, and traditionally the busiest, day of early voting and will likely bring the total of people who have already voted past 1,200, said Routt County Clerk Kay Weinland.

In comparison, the 1999 early voting season saw 601 people come to the booths. As of 3 p.m. on Thursday, about 1,150 people had already voted at the Routt County Courthouse, Weinland said.

Weinland said the high early turnout bodes well for this election, noting that there may be somewhat fewer people who turn up at the polls on Nov. 6 but that the total turnout could be significantly higher than in previous years.

“Hopefully this is a sign that we’re going to have a good turnout for this election,” Weinland said.

Weinland said she thinks the greater number of early voters may have to do with the ease of the process and people’s wish to avoid lines on election day.

Though early ballots are not counted until election day, the rush to vote early could have important ramifications for tax proposals and candidates.

Supporters of the citywide 3-2-1 transportation tax asked residents by direct mail and in meetings to vote early to try to get enough votes in hand to potentially pass the tax before Nov. 6.

If a large enough majority of the people who voted early voted for the tax, their tactic may pay off.

Elections without state and national races or issues typically draw fewer voters.

The most active City Council race in 1999 drew 2,500 voters, and a proposal to create a Downtown Development Authority was defeated by a vote of 1,563 to 551.There are currently about 16,000 registered voters in Routt County, though many of those people may not be active anymore, Weinland said.

“We’d like to have upwards of a thousand votes in the bank by election day,” Mary Brown told a gathering of about 35 Chamber Resort Association members last month.

Brown, a former Steamboat Springs City Council president, currently works with a lobbying company, Intermountain Corporate Affairs. She is consulting with the 3-2-1 Alliance, an issue committee seeking the passage of the tax.

“Ask your employees if they live in the city, and if they do, give them a voter registration card,” Brown said. “The easiest way to vote is by mailing in an absentee ballot. So often, people have the intention of voting on election day, then something comes up and they don’t make it to the polls.”

Brown said Thursday she was not sure the committee’s plea for early votes is what caused people to come out.

“I’m not comfortable taking credit for showing people that early voting is convenient,” Brown said.


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