Voters should heed deadlines, new rules

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Routt County Clerk Kay Weinland said she expects some voters to be turned away at the polls this year.

They won't be turned away because they forgot to register or have just moved to the area, but because they learned too late about a new state rule requiring voters to show up to the polls with identification.

This year is the first time voters will be required to bring identification to their polling places. A photo identification such as a driver's license is preferred, Weinland said.

"Everybody has to have one; there's no exception," Weinland said. "Even people who have voted here for 50 years and know the judges, they have to present an ID."

With the opening of polls about a month away, voters also need to be aware of upcoming deadlines.

The deadline to establish residency is Sunday. Anyone who wants to vote in Routt County must have resided in the county for 30 days before Election Day.

The deadline for registering to vote is Monday.

People who already have registered in the county do not need to re-register, but people who have moved to the county from another Colorado county or state do need to go online or stop by the Routt County Courthouse or several other locations to fill out registration forms.

Voters have until Oct. 28 to apply for an absentee ballot if the voters want to receive ballots by mail, and until Oct. 31 to apply for an absentee ballot. Anyone can use an absentee ballot, which also are available online.

Another option for people who have to commute to work and might not be able to make it to the polls on Nov. 4 is to vote early.

Starting Oct. 20, voters can go to the clerk's office of the Routt County Courthouse between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and vote at their convenience. More and more people are using the early voting option, Weinland said.

"It's really a good option for people that work in Steamboat that live in one of the outlying precincts that can vote while they're in town," she said. "The intent is to make it convenient and increase turnout and increase participation."

Early voting is available until Oct. 31.

Sample ballots are available at the clerk's office.

Because this year's election is an odd year, non-partisan election, a light turnout is expected, Weinland said.

But people should remember that their votes count, she said.

"I think No. 1 it's a responsibility," Weinland said. "It's a right, but it's also a privilege."

Visit www.colorado.gov/government.htm to register to vote online.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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