Routt County turns out in large numbers for presidential election |

Routt County turns out in large numbers for presidential election

Luke Graham

Voters arrive at Centennial Hall on Tuesday evening to cast their votes in the 2012 election.

— When Joanne Cannon enlisted in the Navy in 1943, she had a simple message for her recruiters.

"I'm doing it," she said, "to help win the war."

Cannon served two years and eight months as a lab technician. She considered it a duty to her country fighting across the ocean in World War II. She fought for the rights of people abroad and at home.

One of those rights, she said, is to vote.

"I think it's our privilege to vote," said Cannon, 97, a resident of the Doak Walker Care Center in Steamboat Springs. "I think people should have the right to make up their mind."

She first voted in the 1952 election and hasn't missed a general election since.

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She voted for John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan, among others. To her, there wasn't a party line to take. Rather it was the man running who she cared about.

"I think it's my civil duty," she said Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, Cannon voted in the 2012 election. It's something she wouldn't miss.

Routt County traditionally turns out in force for presidential elections. In 2008, 13,110 of Routt County's 14,751 active voters cast ballots, amounting to about 90 percent turnout. Routt County also had 90 percent turnout among active voters in 2004.

An active voter is one who either voted in the county’s last general election or has registered since then.

Turnout appears to have fallen just short of the 90 percent threshold this year. As of late Tuesday night, with less than 200 votes outstanding, 87 percent of the county’s 14,591 active voters had cast ballots. More than 70 perent of voters cast early or mail ballots.

In 2011, 7,873 active voters cast ballots here. It was a record turnout locally for odd-year elections. In the midterm election of 2010, 9,090 of the county’s active voters — or about 68 percent — voted.

On Tuesday, polling places throughout the county saw steady streams of voters but never the long lines that plagued polling stations in other parts of the U.S.

"We've been doing pretty good," said Sherry Wofford, Routt County’s chief deputy clerk. "It's slower than we thought it would be, but it doesn't surprise me with the mail-ins and early voting."

Early voting Friday proved to be the busiest. With 610 voters casting ballots that day at the courthouse annex in downtown Steamboat, the wait often was 15 to 20 minutes. Tuesday was much calmer, drawing a cross-section of voters.

"It's part of being a good citizen," said Zach Schmidt, a Steamboat Springs High School senior who was voting Tuesday for the first time. "Being active and voting seems like a no-brainer."

It was Patrick Sullivan’s third presidential election as a qualified voter. He said he vehemently opposed one of the candidates, and that voting was his way to voice that.

"People fought for our rights," he said. "Not voting is unpatriotic."

For some, the night included watch parties and constant TV monitoring into the early hours of Wednesday.

For 97-year-old Cannon, she marked her 16th presidential election like all the rest of them.

"Really," she said, "I'll be glad when it's all over."