A record number of Routt County voters are casting their ballots early this election year, a trend election officials say is occurring across the state.
Nearly 2,000 voters have passed through the Routt County Courthouse Annex building since Oct. 18, when early voting began. That number should approach 3,000 by Friday, the deadline for early voting, Routt County Clerk Kay Weinland said.
"Most days we've been over 300 voters," Weinland said Monday. "Every day, the numbers are up from (year) 2000."
In 2000, about 2,000 area voters hit the polls before Election Day. An additional 1,500 cast absentee ballots. Routt County has issued about 1,800 absentee ballots this year, Weinland said.
"We're seeing a bigger turnout, which we've been expecting," she said. "We're breaking records every day."
Statewide more than a quarter-million Coloradans have cast absentee or early ballots. The Secretary of State's Office expects 60 percent of Colorado's 3.1 million registered voters to vote early or by absentee ballot, spokeswoman Lisa Doran said.
A combination of factors is leading to the increased turnout for early voting, Weinland said. For one, many voters prefer to take care of voting ahead of time to avoid any potential personal conflicts that may arise on Election Day. Some simply want to avoid crowded polling places on Nov. 2.
"I think it's a lot of everything," Weinland said. "My sense is that they don't want to take a chance of something happening at the last minute.
"It's also a convenience, and I think that's the purpose of absentee and early voting."
Others say early and absentee voting is increasing because of fears of fraud and other problems that may arise as Election Day nears. Officials from political parties also have been urging voters to vote early.
Early voting continues throughout the week in the lobby of the Courthouse Annex building, adjacent to the Routt County Courthouse. The polls open at 8 a.m. today through Friday.
All registered voters must bring photo identification, and their voting status will be verified with the county's computer database.
Despite the large early voter turnout, Weinland said waits have been minimal, with the typical voter in line no longer than five minutes.
"It's very efficient," she said. "But it will get busier as the week goes on."
Friday also marks the final day for voters to request absentee ballots. Weinland said she's been approached on several occasions by registered voters concerned that their absentee ballots won't be counted unless Election Day races are tightly contested.
"That's just not true," Weinland said. "We count all the absentee and provisional ballots that are valid."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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