Steamboat Springs There are already signs that voter turnout in Routt County could be high on Nov. 7. On Monday, the first day of early voting, 111 people cast their ballots, and many more came to the Routt County Courthouse asking for sample ballots and absentee ballots.
Asked if she'd ever seen such heavy turnout on the first day of early voting, County Clerk Kay Weinland said, "Nope, never. And absentee voting is heavier than normal. I'm hoping for a record-breaking turnout, which is what we're geared for."
Early voting will continue from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily until Nov. 3, Weinland said. People also may choose to pick up absentee ballots and take them home to fill out, even if they aren't planning a trip for Nov. 7, Weinland said. She cautioned, however, that absentee voters shouldn't make the mistake of turning up at the polls on Election Day and attempt to drop off their ballot at their usual polling place. All absentee ballots must be either hand delivered or mailed to the clerk's office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. One of Weinland's deputies will check the mail at 7 p.m. on election night in an effort to make certain all eligible ballots are counted, she said.
Among those picking up absentee ballots in the final 15 minutes the clerk's office was open Monday were three teachers from the Steamboat Springs School District.
George Weber said he votes absentee because he likes to take his time.
"I always feel rushed (in the voting booth)," Weber said, "even though I do my homework."
Tom Keenan said he's done his homework, too.
"This year's ballot is so complicated, that's why I take it home. I've already dedicated two to three hours studying it."
Susan Bourn said the number of issues on this year's ballot, combined with the numbering system used to name them, made her want to take her ballot home.
"Not only are there an awful lot of issues," Bourn said, "but an awful lot of important issues facing Steamboat."
Actually, voters in Routt County will be asked to make at least 25 decisions when they step into the voting booth. In some parts of the county, where there are local questions, the number will be even higher. For example, in south Routt, voters will be asked to vote on a $1.2 million library bond and an $8.95 million school bond to refurbish all three public schools.
In Hayden, voters will be asked to answer four questions regarding the future of recreation in their town. The questions include formation of a recreation district and naming five residents to serve on the board that oversees it. The big questions are whether to bond for $5.6 million to build a recreation facility and whether to allow a mill levy increase to raise $400,000 annually to operate and maintain the facility.
In Steamboat, Roberta and Bob Rundell felt the ballot was complicated enough to plan ahead and vote early.
"I knew exactly what I was going to do," Roberta said. Even though she filled out a sample ballot ahead of time, she used the full 10 minutes allotted for each voter to spend in the voting booth. But there is no need to hurry, the posted 10 minutes isn't a hard number, but a guideline, according to the clerk's office.
Bob Rundell said he relied heavily on a pamphlet prepared by the League of Women Voters to help him make his decision in advance.
To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210 or e-mail email@example.com