More Routt County voters participating in early voting this year | SteamboatToday.com

More Routt County voters participating in early voting this year

Vote buttons sit on an American flag. (File photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — About 15 percent of active voters in Routt County have already cast their ballots.

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kim Bonner said her office has received 2,498 ballots as of Wednesday, Oct. 24, which is 10 days after ballots were mailed. There are 16,588 active voters in the county, according to the Secretary of State's office.

More voters are participating in early voting this year. In 2016, 1,030 voters had turned in their ballots nine days after they were mailed, and in 2014, 1,466 voters had submitted their ballots by this point according to data from the Secretary of State's office.

She encouraged voters to get their ballots in sooner rather than later.

Counting the ballots is a labor-intensive, multi-step process in the local clerk's office.

Election judges used to use an automatic letter opener to open ballot envelopes, Bonner said, but reverted to opening each one by hand after technical difficulties with the machine.

"For the most part, every step is taking a little bit longer just because of the size of the ballot," Bonner said. There are at least 36 ballot questions on every Routt County ballot, and many precincts have multiple local measures on the ballot as well.

Once your ballot is in the box or received by mail, election judges verify the signature on the outside of your ballot to ensure it matches previous signatures on file. Bonner reminded voters to sign their ballot envelope, and that ballots will be rejected if they do not match signatures on file.

Four bi-partisan election judges are involved in opening the ballot. One person opens the envelope; another takes the security sleeve containing the ballot. Another judge takes the ballot out of the sleeve, and a fourth person unfolds it. This is to protect the anonymity of your vote. Once unfolded, the ballot goes to another bi-partisan board in charge of scanning the ballot into the system. This whole process, besides signature verification, is filmed on a video camera.

"A lot of times we get almost 50 percent of the total voted ballots in the last two days," Bonner said. "With that lengthy process, it could be likely that we wouldn’t finish scanning on election night if it starts running too late, and we’d have to resume the next day. Definitely avoid even that last weekend, if possible."

If you make a mistake on your ballot, make it clear which choice you intended to vote for by crossing out the error and filling out the correct bubble. As long as your intention is clear, the scanner will flag the double-voted ballot, and a bipartisan board will review your ballot to determine your intention.

If your ballot is rejected, you'll receive a letter notifying you that it was not counted. You can also check your ballot's status by visiting govotecolorado.com. Voters can also sign up for Ballot Trail, a tracking service that notifies you when your ballot has been received and counted by visiting co.routt.co.us/538/ballot-trail.

If you haven't received a mail ballot, contact the clerk's elections office at 970-870-5558 to receive a replacement mail ballot, or vote in person at a voter service and polling center.

All ballots must be in the clerk's office by 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, and postmarks do not count. Sample ballots and more information are available at co.routt.co.us/221/elections.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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