Every vote counts in primary

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— The primary election is today, and Routt County Clerk Kay Weinland has one message for residents: "Don't forget to vote."

Her second message?

"Don't forget your ID's," she said, referring to recent state legislation that requires voters to bring a form of identification to the polls.

With early voting numbers that were higher than usual, Weinland continues to predict that there could be a good turnout at the polls today.

The primary election is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Polling precincts have been combined for the primary, so voters should double check where they are supposed to go, Weinland said. Precinct maps are available on the county's Web site, or residents can call the county clerk's office directly.

Residents who go to their usual polling spot and find no one is there will see a sign directing them where to go, Weinland said.

Absentee ballots must be into the clerk's office by 7 p.m. today.

Unaffiliated voters should not count themselves out of this election: They can affiliate at the polls and vote in the primary election, and then can change their status back to unaffiliated after they leave. About a third of the county's registered voters are unaffiliated, Weinland said.

Turnout for early voting and requests for absentee ballots so far this year have been above average. When the early voting polls closed on Friday, a total of 563 voters had cast their vote early or requested an absentee ballot, Weinland said.

Of those voting, 132 Democrats voted early and 251 Republicans voted early. Absentee ballots had been requested by 77 Democrats and 103 Republicans, and those numbers could grow with emergency ballots.

In 2002, when there were no contested elections, 154 people voted absentee or early.

A large voter turnout is expected for the primaries this year because of local and statewide contested elections.

This year, for the Republican party, there are two contested county commissioner primary races: Bea Westwater is challenging incumbent Nancy Stahoviak in District 1, while Jeff Fry and Mark Marchus are facing off in District 2.

There also is a five-way race for the chance to be on the November ballot for the District 3 House of Representatives seat.

For the Democratic party, the primary race for U.S. Senator between Mike Miles and Ken Salazar could increase turnout for the party.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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