Voter registration deadline approaches

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— Routt County residents who want to vote in the August primaries must register and declare their party affiliation by Monday.

The Aug. 8 Republican primary will determine which sheriff candidate, Ray Birch or Garrett Wiggins, will face Democrat Gary Wall in the Nov. 7 general election. To vote in the Republican primary, voters must register and declare their affiliation with the Grand Old Party by Monday. The Republican sheriff's race is the only contested primary race in either party. Despite the absence of a contested race in the party, Democrats still will have a primary election.

July 10 -- Last day to register to vote in the primary election

July 31 to Aug. 4 -- Early voting for the primary election is Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Aug. 8 --rimary election day. Votes can be cast at any voting center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Oct. 10 -- Last day to register to vote for the general election

Oct. 23 to Nov. 3 --arly voting for the general election is Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Nov. 7 --eneral election day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m

Also, traditionally Demo--cratic or independent voters who want to cast a ballot in the GOP primary can do so by changing their party affiliation.

"If someone wants to vote in the (Republican) sheriff's race, and they are registered as a Democrat, they need to change their party affiliation," Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said Thursday.

Voters will be able to change their party affiliations again before the November general election, Weinland said.

She urged residents to notify the county of any address changes. Voter registration forms must be postmarked by Monday or brought to the Routt County Courthouse by 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Election forms can be downloaded from the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Web site by clicking on the Clerk and Recorder's Office link from www.co.routt.co.us. The Web site also provides election information such as sample ballots and poll locations.

Weinland suggested visiting the site so voters can familiarize themselves with a few changes that are in store for this election season.

The county will use 35 new electronic voting machines. A mock election was held at the courthouse last week so people could try out the new machines.

"People were like, 'This is so cool,'" Weinland said. "It gave them a feel for how the equipment functioned."

The electronic machines are expected to simplify the election process. A voter-verifiable paper record is kept with each machine in case there are any vote discrepancies, Weinland said.

Turnout at primary elections typically is less than 20 percent of the 12,500 active registered voters in Routt County. Weinland encouraged voters to participate in the primary elections as a chance to try out the new equipment.

Also new this year are polling centers that allow voters to cast their ballots where it is most convenient for them. The electronic equipment and software allows election officials to monitor, in real time, who has voted throughout the county.

The county will perform accuracy tests on the new machines July 18 and soon will start training poll workers in how to use the machines, Weinland said.

--o reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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