Routt County voters cast ballots in a pandemic
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Carmen Farrell was trying to get over one last hurdle as she finished voting: positioning she and her daughter in front of some balloons for the perfect post-voting selfie.
Having just gotten her citizenship earlier this year after a months-long process, Farrell was voting for the first time, sharing the moment with her young daughter.
“Its good to be part of the country and this process, hoping for the best,” Farrell said.
Voting is running smoothly at the Steamboat Christian Center as voters cast their ballot during a pandemic.
Ensuring voting is safe has been a priority for Routt County elections officials, and many voters say the precautions taken are adequate. Moving the polling location from the historic Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat to the larger church facility south of town was one of the actions taken to meet health protocols.
“I felt safe in there,” said Shannon Defries, who was also voting for her first time. “That was my first time voting, and I hope it makes a difference, because I finally did it.”
Masked voters and election officials are spread out in the sanctuary of the church allowing for social distancing. Stations are sanitized between each voter, and the bottles of hand sanitizer almost outnumber the voters.
Routt County voters have already returned more than 15,500 ballots, about 1,000 more votes than were cast by county voters in the 2016 Presidential Election. Still, election officials are expecting record in-person voting turnout as well.
As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, nearly 150 votes had been cast on election machines in addition to many paper ballots. Voters have the option to use either an election machine or a paper ballot, which is essentially a replacement mail-in ballot.
Barbara Houston, deputy county clerk and recorder, said everything at the Steamboat location was going well.
“We really haven’t had too much of a delay of getting people in and out; we really haven’t had too much of a line,” said Houston, who has worked on elections for 13 years.
The longest Houston said the line has been was four voters.
“It has been well organized,” said Kim Tucker, a poll watcher there on behalf of the Routt County Democratic Party.
Voters seemed to agree, many mentioning how quickly they were able to cast their ballot.
“It was shorter than I imagined it would have been,” said Stean Helmberger, who normally votes in person. “Last time, I was in Fort Collins, and there was a bit longer of a line, but it was nice to just get right in there.”
Voting will continue until the polls close at 7 p.m. statewide. The first round of results from the county should be available shortly after the polls close.
“It is easy to vote in person in Steamboat, which is nice,” said Moss McLaughlin, who was voting in person because his mail-in ballot was sent to a previous address. “It is easy to feel like your vote doesn’t matter, but it is definitely important to vote.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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