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Routt County had record voter turnout — and it wasn’t close

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County voters came to the polls in record numbers Tuesday with nearly 17,000 votes being cast and turnout numbers representing nearly 90% of active voters.

“We have never seen this many ballots, and we have been doing this for several elections,” said Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kim Bonner.

The last few votes are still being counted, but as of Wednesday afternoon, Routt County has counted 16,938 ballots, an increase of over 17% from the 2016 Presidential Election.

“We’re hoping to get over 17,000,” Bonner said. “We are like 64 away, I think.”

There is still a good chance to reach that mark, as there are still votes to be dealt with.

There are 114 ballots that have been rejected for a variety of reasons such as signature verification discrepancies, the voter forgot to sign the ballot or they failed to provide appropriate identification.

These voters have until the eighth day after the election to cure their ballot, or correct the error that caused it to not be counted.

There are 39 additional ballots the county is waiting to release with any cured ballots to protect the voter’s identity.

Ballots of residents from other counties were accepted in the various drop boxes across the county. Bonner said they will now ship those ballots overnight to the 26 counties they belong to. Presumably, some Routt County ballots ended up in other counties as well, which could add to the final tallies.

The one surprise was the seemingly low turnout of voters to vote in person on Election Day. Election officials had said they expected a lot of people to vote in person Tuesday, and they were ready for a surge, but it never materialized.

A large part of election preparations for the Clerk and Recorder’s Office was how to safely pull off an election during a pandemic, and with that, a plan for how to allow a voter who could not or would not wear a mask to vote.

Only one person showed up to the Steamboat Christian Center polling location in Steamboat Springs without a mask, but election judges were able to convince the voter to put one on.

In Oak Creek, a voter refused to wear a mask and at one point had become vocal about it, Bonner said. Instead of putting on a mask, the voter was allowed to go in and vote while everyone else in line waited outside.

On Bonner’s mind right now is the potential for a recount, a feat that would take a team of six to seven people a week of work to complete.

Proposition 114, which would reintroduce gray wolves in parts of Colorado, is what has Bonner thinking recount, she said. There are about 8,000 more votes in support of the move but about 2.9 million votes were cast in that race.

As for the partisans in Routt County, the night was kind of a mixed bag.

“We were hoping for a red wave, which was kind of limited to a hope. We kept our expectations in check,” said Pete Wood, chair of the Routt County Republicans. “But we did come through with getting Lauren Boebert elected.”

Wood said he was happy with how well the local Republicans were able to get the word out and rally local conservatives to vote for their candidates. The group had about seven different flag-waving celebrations to drum up support for GOP candidates.

Catherine Carson, chair of the Routt County Democrats, said she was excited by the large turnout and the energy the local Democrats were able to build up for their candidates.

Carson said they always have poll watchers on Election Day, and those volunteers reported that voting was slow and steady all day. Carson was really excited about the races Democrats won such as John Hickenlooper claiming the U.S. Senate seat and Tim Redmond winning the race for Routt County Board of Commissioners in District 2.

“It is exciting to have the first person of color in the history of Routt County as a county commissioner,” Carson said about Redmond. “I don’t know if we have had that diversity anywhere on the Western Slope.”


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