Preparing for 100 percent |

Preparing for 100 percent

Expectations high for voter turnout with about half of county using early ballots

Brandon Gee

Tina Fry, county recording supervisor, stamps a mail-in ballot that was dropped off Monday by Susan Hoffner at the Routt County Courthouse. With Election Day just one week away, Routt County residents are taking advantage of early voting and the mail to cast their votes.

— Half of Routt County’s 17,550 registered voters have voted early or been mailed a ballot, but Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland still is bracing herself for a huge turnout Nov. 4.

“Tuesday’s going to be exciting,” a giddy Weinland said Monday. “I’m preparing for 100 percent turnout.”

Weinland said 2,197 people voted early last week. And, as of Monday morning, Weinland said the county has sent out 6,520 mail-in ballots, a number that continues to increase. Weinland said the second week of early voting tends to be busier than the first.

“I was really excited by the turnout,” she said.

The local electorate’s enthusiasm has taken many forms, including a large number of political signs endorsing candidates throughout the county. Some have been a little too zealous, though, in lining streets with the signs, according to the city of Steamboat Springs. City Clerk Julie Jordan said the city removed about a dozen signs Monday that were on city property or in the city’s right-of-way.

Weinland said today is the last day voters can request that a mail-in ballot be sent to their homes. Voters may pick up a mail-in ballot at the clerk’s office in person through Friday. Weinland stressed that the ballots require 59 cents of postage rather than the single-stamp price of 42 cents. Concerns that ballots with insufficient postage will not be counted, however, are not warranted, acting Steamboat Springs Postmaster Tim O’Brien said.

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“The Postal Service’s policy has been we’re going to deliver it to the county,” he said. “There’s no delay for anyone, even if there’s no postage.”

O’Brien said there is evidence of mail-in ballots’ growing popularity at the post office.

“What we have is a steady stream,” he said. “And every year, we see a little bit more.”

Voters also may drop off their mail-in ballots at one of several designated sites throughout Routt County until 4:30 p.m. Nov. 3. The sites are Yampa Town Hall, Oak Creek Town Hall, Hayden Town Hall, the Clark Store and the County Clerk’s offices.

“I set up drop-off sites for voter convenience,” Weinland said.

Although voting has gone smoothly, Weinland said there have been problems with a new statewide voter registration database instituted this year. Although the problems cause headaches for her staff, Weinland said they would not affect voter experience.

“None of what we experience is going to have an effect on how people vote in Routt County,” Weinland said. “Worst case scenario, someone will have to vote a provisional (ballot), and we’ll figure it out. Nobody goes away from the polls without voting.”

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail

Voting tips

Ballot advice from Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland

– Be aware mail-in ballots require 59 cents postage. There are designated drop-off sites throughout the county at: Yampa Town Hall, Oak Creek Town Hall, Hayden Town Hall, the Clark Store, and the County Clerk’s offices. Ballots can be dropped off at these sites through 4:30 p.m. Nov. 3. If you choose to drop your ballot off on Election Day, you will need to come to the Elections Office behind the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. All mail-in ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

– Early voting began Oct. 24 at the Routt County Courthouse Annex. Early voting begins at 8:30 a.m. Hours this week have been extended to 6 p.m. through Friday. Don’t wait in ’08. Take advantage of early voting and avoid long lines.

– Voters who have applied for a mail-in ballot and decide to go to the polls to vote will be required to vote a provisional ballot. If you’ve applied for a mail-in ballot and have not received it, call 870-5558 to check on the status. You can verify your voter registration record online at or on the clerk’s Web site:…

– Go to the polls prepared. The ballot is extremely long and filled with important candidate races and many complex issues. You can prepare by visiting our Web site:…. Take advantage of sample ballots available throughout the county, on the clerk’s web site, in the county clerk’s offices and in the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s 2008 Election Guide. Also available to prepare for the ballot issues are the State Ballot Information Book and League of Women Voters guides. Don’t make your neighbor wait in line behind you – go to the polls prepared.