Our view: Every vote counts | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Every vote counts

At issue: The Hayden school bond issue ended in a tie vote. Our view: The fate of the issue, which could bring millions of dollars of grant money to the school district, will be decided by less than a dozen votes. Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Tom Ross, reporter • Hannah Hoffman, community representative • Bob Schneider, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

If you’ve ever doubted that every vote counts, the Hayden School District bond issue ballot measure proves you wrong.

In a rare occurrence, the vote on Referendum 3A was deadlocked at 427 to 427, and its fate rests on 11 ballots that were rejected by bipartisan election judges because of signature issues and not counted. Those voters have until Nov. 15 to bring valid identification to the Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs so that their votes stand.

The outcome of the vote and whether or not there will be a recount will not be known until midday Thursday, but it’s clear that those 11 votes will directly impact the future of Hayden schools one way or the other.

We endorsed Hayden’s bond issue in an Oct. 22 editorial, and we believe it was a measure worth supporting. The ballot issue would give Hayden School District the ability to bond for $22.3 million to replace the middle school and high school, which are beyond repair.

The bond issue, if ultimately passed, would only go into effect if the district lands a BEST grant from the Colorado Department of Education, and we now know following last Tuesday’s election, grant approval is still another year away and not a certainty, but without passage of a bond issue Hayden would no longer be in the running for the competitive grant.

This bond issue leverages money for the district, and if it doesn’t pass, district voters are potentially giving up $41 million in BEST grant dollars. We also think it’s a bit of an anomaly that Hayden voters would vote by a wide margin to tax themselves for road and other infrastructure improvements and not vote to support their schools.

So with millions of potential BEST grant funding in the balance, the Hayden school bond issue vote provides a clear example of how truly powerful the act of voting can be.

And on a broader note, we live in a participatory democracy and the right to vote is fundamental to preserving our freedoms and should be exercised by all Americans even in off-year elections. Only about 40 percent of Routt County’s 17,522 registered voters took the time to return their ballots on Nov. 7. As an engaged community, we hope to see that turnout percentage increase in future elections.

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