Routt County election history a reminder to get ballots in on time

Six local races have been decided by eight votes or fewer since 2003

Voters can drop their ballot at the 24-hour dropbox in the alley behind the historic Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Routt County’s history of close elections — six races decided by eight or fewer votes since 2003 — may be yet another reason voters want to ensure their ballots are received by the Routt County Clerk and Recorder’s office by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Four of the six races were decided by three votes or fewer, with one of those being a South Routt School Board election last fall, which was decided by just one vote — 384 to 383.

In Steamboat Springs, the closest election in the last 20 years was a seat on City Council in 2003, with Susan Dellinger defeating G.H. “Bud” Romberg by just three votes, 1,255 to 1,252. Steamboat has added about 2,600 people since then.

When looking at Routt County commissioner elections, the closest race of late was in 2014, with Kari Hermacinski defeating Steve Ivancie by 77 votes.

Hayden has also had several close races, including a 2013 school board seat won by just three votes and the 2017 school bond issue to replace the middle and high school that passed by just two votes. Before cured ballots were counted, the vote in 2017 was actually tied 427 to 427, and after those ballots were included the measure passed 431 to 429.

Another close race in Hayden was a ballot measure that passed by 22 votes in 2009 adding a lodging tax in town, a move that at the time was projected to earn $1,200 a year.

The West Routt Fire Protection District also had a close race with a tax measure in 2013 passing by just seven votes. Five years later in 2018, Yampa voters would say no by just eight votes to a ballot measure allowing the Yampa Fire Protection District to shed restrictions imposed by Colorado’s Gallagher Amendment.

In 2018, the most recent midterm election year, Routt County voters cast about 13,600 ballots, a turnout rate of about 77%. That race was the highest midterm election turnout in the previous 20 years.

Data from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office shows about 6,800 of this year’s general election ballots have been returned as of Friday morning, Nov. 4. Of those, roughly 2,880 are from unaffiliated voters, 2,260 from Democrats and 1,570 from Republicans.

This 24-hour ballot dropbox behind the historic Routt County Courthouse is one of two in the county, with the other being near the Combined Law Enforcement Facility on the west side of Steamboat Springs. Ballots can also be taken to the town halls in Yampa, Oak Creek and Hayden, as well as the Clark Store.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Ballots can be returned to several locations around Routt County, including two 24-hour drop boxes. One of those drop boxes is in the alley behind the historic Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat, and the other is in the parking lot of the Combined Law Enforcement Facility on Steamboat’s west side.

The town halls of Yampa, Oak Creek and Hayden are also ballot drop-off locations, though they are not available 24 hours. The town halls will accept ballots until they close on Monday, but until 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8.

Ballots can also be dropped off at the Clark Store in Clark, which is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. both Monday, Nov. 7 and Tuesday.

On Election Day, Nov. 8, voters will be able to cast votes at the Routt County Annex, Hayden Town Hall or Oak Creek Town Hall from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Each of these locations will have Americans with Disabilities Act accessible voting machines.

All of these locations, including the drop boxes, will accept ballots on Election Day until 7 p.m. Results are expected to come in as many as three batches, with one shortly after polls close at 7 p.m., another around 9 p.m. and then the final tally before election staff heads home for the evening.

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