Routt County voters taking their time casting ballots in 2015 election
Steamboat Springs — The pace at which completed ballots are coming into the Routt County Courthouse suggests either voters are procrastinating a bit or perhaps struggling with their decisions.
Routt County Clerk Kim Bonner reported at mid-afternoon Thursday that her office had received 3,600 completed ballots for the Nov. 3 election, representing about 23 percent of the 15,651 ballots mailed out.
“It’s the last two days in particular that we get inundated,” Bonner said.
Her office — with an entrance off the rear parking lot of the Routt County Courthouse, at 522 Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat Springs — will be open 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday for the convenience of voters who can also register to vote as late as Election Day. Ballot drop boxes for voters in Yampa, Oak Creek, Clark and Hayden will be available until 5 p.m. Election Day.
There is also a ballot drop box in the alley between the old courthouse building and the courthouse annex.
The voter service and polling center in the clerk’s office will be open 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Election Day.
Bonner said that, as of Thursday afternoon, her office had received 110 ballots back from Routt County Precinct 1, North Routt, where 723 voters received their ballots late due to a clerical error in the clerk’s office.
Voter turnout for odd-year elections tends to be lower than for general elections, such as the 2014 election when statewide offices were up for grabs. And this year’s early ballot returns compare favorably to the last odd year election in 2013, when the ballot count as of the Thursday before the election was about 20 percent of the 15,924 ballots sent out that year. The final returns from the 2013 election recorded 7,351 total ballots cast for a turnout of 46 percent, according to Bonner.
Interested voters can view all of the election results beginning in 2000 and continuing to the present on the county clerk’s website.
Particularly in Steamboat Springs, the 2013 election did not have as many contested races. Voters that year were energized about the question of whether new recreational trails and a promenade on Yampa Street were appropriate uses for a rededicated 1 percent lodging tax.
This year’s election, however, probably trumps Referendum 2A in terms of voter interest, with twin Referenda 3A and 3B comprising both a $92 million bond issue to build a new high school and remodel existing schools and a $1.98 million mill levy override to fund operation of the schools.
Tony Connell prevailed against Clark Davidson in the only contested Steamboat Springs City Council race in 2013. Incumbents Walter Magill and Kenny Reisman, along with first-time candidate Scott Ford, all ran unopposed. It’s a far different council election in 2015, with five candidates vying for the open District 1 seat alone, two candidates in both the District 2 and District 3 races, and two candidates in the race for the at-large council seat. All four races promise first-time city council members.
////Inactive voter list growing/////
The election of 2013 also marked a change in state election rules as the provisions of a new law, spawned from House Bill 1303, went into effect. That bill allowed voters to register on Election Day and also changed the definition of inactive voters. Instead of labeling past voters as inactive due to a failure to vote in the previous election, the criteria were changed to deem inactive those voters to whom ballots were sent, but returned as undeliverable.
Bonner said that, as of mid-afternoon Thursday, her office had already received more than 1,000 ballots back that were undeliverable — meaning the inactive voter total, which currently stands at 3,500, will grow significantly this year.
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