Routt County residents can begin casting votes today

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— Today, Routt County residents can start casting their votes.

Early voting begins today at the Routt County Clerk's Office, allowing voters to cast their ballots at their convenience, and avoid long lines on Nov. 5.

The county is also collecting absentee ballots, which they started sending out Oct. 5. They will be accepted until Oct. 29.

County Clerk Kay Weinland said the number of people choosing to vote before Election Day continues to grow.

"It seems to grow every year. I think they like the convenience of voting on their schedule," she said.

She said voters not willing to take the chance of missing the polls on Nov. 5 often stop in the courthouse when they are downtown shopping or on business.

She also said for those who live outside the city, it is often easier to vote in Steamboat than the designated precincts.

Many Stagecoach residents prefer voting in Steamboat where they work rather than making the trip to Phippsburg, she said.

Early voting will continue at the courthouse from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until Nov. 1.

That gives voters two business weeks to get to the polls early.

Residents will not be voting on any presidential or City Council races this year, but will vote on gubernatorial, state and U.S. Senate races, along with deciding on a number of controversial local ballot issues.

Steamboat residents will vote on a property tax for fire protection and its Water Authority Agreement with the Mount Werner Water District.

The entire county will be asked to approve a tax increase for a judicial facility.

Based on past years, Weinland said she would be surprised if the voter turnout was greater than 45 percent.

On the first day of early voting last year, 175 people cast their votes by absentee ballot, another 56 people voted early and another 25 either picked up early ballots or asked to have them mailed.

In 2000, 111 people turned out to vote on the first day of early voting.

Weinland said a high turnout in early voting or a return of absentee ballots does not necessarily mean the area will have a high overall voter turnout.

"An exceptionally high turnout may mean fewer people show up to the polls on Election Day, and the area percentage would be just the same," she said.

Regardless of the numbers, Weinland said none of the ballots are counted until Nov. 5, and those numbers are not released until 7 p.m. that evening.

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