Steamboat 700 ballots arriving; public forum tonight |

Steamboat 700 ballots arriving; public forum tonight

Mike Lawrence

Steamboat Springs resident Coleman Cook casts his Steamboat 700 annexation ballot with city of Steamboat Springs receptionist Kim White on Wednesday at City Hall. Ballots are due by March 9 for the mail-only election. Also, a public forum is scheduled for tonight at Howelsen Lodge to discuss the proposed annexation.

— Most ballots are in mailboxes or on the way for the city's vote on the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation, which a panel will debate at a public forum tonight.

Steamboat Springs City Clerk Julie Franklin said Wednesday that she and her election staff are "knee deep" in ballots at City Hall, but those are primarily replacement ballots for voters who changed their addresses after ballots were printed by California-based contractor Integrated Voting Solutions. Ballots for most registered voters are on the way or already have arrived in mailboxes across Steamboat Springs.

Tonight's public forum about Steamboat 700 is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Olympian Hall at Howelsen Lodge. Moderator Cathleen Neelan said the event will be a question-and-answer session with supporters and opponents of Steamboat 700. Attendees can submit written questions at the event.

The annexation proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space during a 20- to 30-year time

frame for development on a 487-acre site just west of city limits.

The city's mail-only vote on the annexation ends March 9.

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City Hall is the only drop-off location for completed ballots, which also can be returned via regular mail service. One postage stamp is all that's required for returning a ballot by mail. City Hall is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and closed Fridays. However, City Hall will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. March 5, which is the Friday before the election ends, and from 7:30 a.m. to noon March 6, so voters can return ballots.

Voters also can receive ballots through March 9 at City Hall.

"Up until and on Election Day, people can come in and get a ballot over the counter," Franklin said.

The registration date for the election has passed. If you're a registered voter but have lost your ballot or haven't received one, replacement ballot forms are available on the Web at, through the "Departments" and "City Clerk" links.

Franklin said Wednesday that her office already has received a stack of about 100 ballots that were returned as "undeliverable," primarily because of incorrect addresses. Registered voters can call or visit City Hall to check or update their address. City Hall's main phone number is 970-879-2060.

State statute allows voters to request a ballot in the mail up to a week before the election, but Franklin said that would be a very tight timeline for a back-and-forth mail transaction and advised voters to take action much sooner.

"If it's the middle of next week, and someone hasn't gotten their ballot in the mail, they should call us," Franklin said.

Franklin said voters' status was changed to "inactive" if they did not vote in the November 2008 election, not November 2009 as previously reported. But voters can be listed as inactive if their ballot was mailed to an undeliverable address last year.

To change that status back to "active," voters can complete and return the "application for mail ballot by an inactive voter" form on the city's Web site. The form also is at City Hall and may be filed any time before March 9.

Franklin said the city has about 2,000 extra ballots on hand for replacements, changed addresses and other situations.

Neelan said tonight's forum will include two-minute responses to questions addressed to either supporters or opponents of the annexation, then two minutes of rebuttal from the other side. Introductions will be brief, and there will be no closing statements, she said.

"We are going to take questions right up until the end," she said.

The Steamboat Pilot & Today and Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association are the primary sponsors of the forum. Neelan is a professional mediator and Steamboat Springs resident.

"I try to get everybody to play nice in the sandbox," Neelan said, adding that she expects a civil tone to tonight's event.

"If you're going to submit a question that's a personal attack, it ain't gonna get read," she said. "Hopefully, people are there to gather information and not to fling mud."

Routt County conducted its first mail-only election last fall and experienced a significant amount of challenges related to un-updated addresses, inaccurate voter information, incomplete registrations and more. Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland has said that process likely cleaned up much of the registration files for this election, conducted by the city with assistance from the county.

Franklin said she has not heard of significant problems with ballots.

"Mostly, we've got people who've changed their information or dropped (the ballot) as soon as they walked out of the post office — we've had a couple of those," she said.


■ Learn more about the Let’s Vote issue committee, opposing the Steamboat 700 annexation here.

■ Learn more about the Good For Steamboat committee, supporting the Steamboat 700 annexation here.

If you go

What: Community forum about Referendum A and the proposed annexation of Steamboat 700, with moderator Cathleen Neelan

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Olympian Hall at Howelsen Lodge, 845 Howelsen Parkway

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