Strong preliminary turnout seen in Steamboat for high-interest 2010 election |

Strong preliminary turnout seen in Steamboat for high-interest 2010 election

Election judge Kevin Kaminski sets up an electronic voting machine at a polling station inside the Yampa Valley Medical Center on Monday afternoon.

Ballot drop-off location*

Routt County Clerk & Recorder's Office

522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs

*All completed ballots must be returned to Clerk & Recorder's Office by 7 p.m. today

— All signs point to above-average voter turnout in Routt County for today's 2010 mid-term election.

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said 5,376 of the county's approximately 13,000 registered voters had cast their ballots as of 2:30 p.m. Monday.

"We're getting closer to 50 percent," she said. Historically, Routt County has seen 50 to 60 percent voter turnout in years with gubernatorial races.

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Voters still may cast ballots the traditional way — at precinct polling places (find your polling place here) — until 7 p.m. today. They also can turn in their mail ballots at the Clerk and Recorder's Office by 7 p.m. today.

Weinland's office sent out 5,798 mail ballots in fall, and 3,415 have been completed and returned. Another 1,961 early voters cast their ballots by electronic voting machine. Early voting ended Friday.

Tracking early voter volume is complicated this election by the fact that the first set of ballots mailed to voters last month contained flawed coding that made them unreadable by electronic scanners. As a result, teams of election judges were assembled to replicate voters' ballots by hand. As of midday Monday, they continued to keep up with the modest flow of ballots needing to be transcribed and double-checked.

Of the 3,415 mail ballots that were completed by voters and returned by Monday, 2,850 had to be replicated by the teams of election judges. The remainder were mail ballots that were sent out after the coding mistake, meaning those ballots are readable by the county's electronic scanners and don't require replication.

Weinland said there's no way to predict how many more mail ballots will be returned today, or how many voters will show up at precinct voting locations across the county.

The 1,962 early voter total includes the 259 voters who chose to surrender their flawed mail ballots and start over with a fresh ballot.

Scanning of early voters' ballots already had begun late last week.

High-interest election

The presence of a school district tax referendum in the Hayden School District plus seven candidates vying for four Hayden Town Council seats could drive up voter turnout in the West Routt County town. The same goes for South Routt, where school district voters there will determine a separate school tax referendum question.

Contested countywide elections include the race for Routt County sheriff between incumbent Democrat Gary Wall and Republican challenger Garrett Wiggins. There's a three-way race for coroner featuring incumbent Republican Rob Ryg, Democrat Darrel Levingston and unaffiliated candidate Kevin Nerney.

Steamboat Springs Democrat Steve Ivancie is challenging Hot Sulphur Springs Republican Randy Baumgardner for his House District 57 seat. That race also features Oak Creek Libertarian Mike Kien.

Elected public officials in the county are keeping a close eye on the statewide vote on a trio of ballot questions that potentially would reduce the budgets of local governments in Colorado.

County Commission Chair­woman Nancy Stahoviak said she thinks organized opposition to Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 did a good job of urging voters to become educated on the implications of the amendments and the legislative proposition.

"We'll have to see if that outweighs peoples' real desire to not have to pay more taxes and fees," Stahoviak said.

Voters statewide also will decide who will represent Colorado in the governor's mansion and the U.S. Senate. Voters in the massive 3rd Congressional District, which includes Routt County, will decide between incumbent Democrat John Salazar and Republican challenger Scott Tipton. There are a slew of other contested races and ballot initiatives also to be decided tonight.

Keeping up with mail-ins

Weinland said late last week that the election judges had caught up with the volume of mail-in ballots, and as of Monday morning, the teams still were keeping up. However, a burst of new ballot envelopes was accumulating on a desk in the county Clerk's Office on Monday afternoon.

"Every time we replicate 10 ballots, 10 more show up. My goal is to not delay election results because of the replication process," Weinland said. "Our judges have done an amazing job. The first day they replicated 300 ballots in two, four-hour shifts. But this morning, they were able to do nearly that number in less than four hours. So, they've doubled their speed."

Weinland had three teams of four election judges working Monday morning with two teams scheduled for the afternoon. Election judges will be on call as needed today.

Weinland said she was encouraged that as of Monday afternoon, the work of the election judges appeared flawless.

Their replication of the ballots that are marked with the flawed computer code is checked every 100 ballots when a sample is checked for errors. Any discovered error would trigger a re-do on all 100 ballots in the batch. So far no errors have been discovered, Weinland said.

"It tells you they're being very conscientious," she said.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail

Precinct polling locations

1 — North Routt Community Charter School, 54200 Routt County Road 62, Clark

2, 5 — Routt County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, 398 S. Poplar St., Hayden

3, 4 — Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat

6, 7 — Steamboat Christian Center, 36103 E. U.S. Highway 40, Steamboat

8, 9 — Oak Creek Town Hall, 129 W. Colfax St., Oak Creek

10 — Yampa Town Hall, 56 Lincoln Ave., Yampa

11, 12 — Centennial Hall, 137 10th St., Steamboat

13, 14 — Courthouse Annex Conference Room 1, 136 6th St., Steamboat

15, 16 — Yampa Valley Medical Center, 1024 Central Park Drive, Steamboat

17, 18 — Mountain Resorts, 2150 Resort Drive, Steamboat

Ballot drop-off location*

Routt County Clerk & Recorder’s Office

522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs

*All completed ballots must be returned to Clerk & Recorder’s Office by 7 p.m. today

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