Steamboat Springs A limited number of electronic voting machines and a potentially large number of voters could result in lines at Routt County polls today.
"It could be a problem," Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said Monday. "People could have to wait in line. If people are in line by 7 p.m., they will be able to vote, no matter how long we have to stay there."
Thirty-five voting machines are distributed throughout the county's eight voting centers. Voters in Routt County can cast their ballots at any one of the centers from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Weinland said six machines are at the Routt County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall in Hayden, six are at the Routt County Courthouse Annex in downtown Steamboat Springs, five are at Yampa Valley Medical Center, four machines are at the Fairfield Inn, Steamboat Pilot & Today and Oak Creek Town Hall, and three are at Yampa Town Hall and North Routt Community Charter School in Clark.
"I have more voting machines (per registered voter) than I'm required to have by law," Weinland said. "It's part of the voters' responsibility to be prepared."
Steamboat Springs City Council President Ken Brenner, chairman of the Routt County Democratic Party, said he spent much of Monday at Weinland's office monitoring preparations for today's election.
"We don't expect any problems with the capacity of the machines (to process votes)," Brenner said. "But if we have 4,000 people vote on Election Day, or 4,500, we're definitely going to be crowded."
More than 4,000 people - about 30 percent of registered voters - cast early or absentee ballots in Routt County since Oct. 23. Weinland said the last day of early voting was "absolutely bonkers" as 435 people cast ballots at the courthouse annex.
Brenner advised voting at "off times," such as mid-morning or mid-afternoon, and he said voters waiting in long lines could consider voting at a less-crowded center.
Throughout the campaign season, Weinland has advised coming to the polls with a prepared sample ballot.
This year's ballot is the lengthiest in Colorado in more than 90 years.
Voters across the state today will elect a governor, a secretary of state, a treasurer and an attorney general while also deciding on 14 ballot questions.
Voters in Steamboat Springs will decide whether to raise pay for City Council members, whether to fund a $29 million bond issue for a new Soda Creek Elementary School and whether to increase property taxes to boost school staff salaries.
Voters in the state's Third Congressional District will elect a congressman, and voters in state House District 57 will elect a state representative. Both districts include Routt County.
Routt County voters also will elect a new sheriff, commissioner and assessor.
Routt County Democrats plan to watch election results at the Steamboat Smokehouse. Routt County Republicans will be a few blocks east on Lincoln Avenue, at the Old Town Pub.
On Monday, the candidates in Routt County's three contested races reflected on months of campaigning and gave a final message to voters. In alphabetical order:
Mike Kerrigan (D)
Campaigning: "It's been a really interesting and gratifying experience, primarily because of the support I've gotten from my party, from the people of the county and from people I've met."
To voters: "I appreciate the support of all the people who have come out to listen to the candidates and who take the privilege of voting seriously. I have a lot more respect for the trust you're trying to earn from the voters."
Dick Klumker (R)
Campaigning: "I've gotten to meet a lot of really good people."
To voters: "I would do a good job for them - I don't know that there's much more to say than that. I'm looking forward to their vote."
Nancy Terry (U)
Campaigning: "It was wonderful - I had a great time. I loved the forums, I thought that was the real highlight."
To voters: "I have faith that they'll vote the right person into office. You have to have faith in that system, that the majority will pick the right person."
Diane Mitsch Bush (D)
Campaigning: "I've enjoyed it very much. I've enjoyed learning, meeting people and sharing ideas."
To voters: "I think I have very excellent and pertinent experience for this job. I can certainly hit the ground running as a commissioner for all the people of Routt County."
Paul Strong (R)
Campaigning: "I've had a number of people thank (Mitsch Bush and I) for running pretty clean campaigns. When you watch TV and see what's going on in other races, I can't imagine what it would be like to be at a higher level. The broader the campaign, the more downhill it seems to go."
To voters: "I've enjoyed serving the voters for the last seven years, and I hope I get to continue for four more."
Gary Wall (D)
Campaigning: "So many times in a sheriff's election there's not a clear choice, but there's a clear choice in this election, because we stand for different philosophies. I'm satisfied with what I did to articulate my positions."
To voters: "The more people that vote, the better. I'm excited to see if the people of Routt County are ready for me."
Garrett Wiggins (R)
Campaigning: "It's just going to be a huge relief, one way or the other. I look forward to spending some good quality time with my kids and my wife."
To voters: "I'd like to show my appreciation to everyone that has supported me and backed me. If elected, I'm going to put together a good team of administrators, and we're going to try to make this one of the best sheriff's departments in Colorado."
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