Swamped in Steamboat

Hourlong waits, long lines reported at vote centers

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Steamboat Springs resident Michelle Diehl reads the newspaper at the offices of the Steamboat Pilot & Today while waiting to vote in Tuesday's midterm election. Voters reported waiting more than an hour to get their turn at the limited number of voting machines available for the large turnout.

— Routt County voters faced long lines and computer malfunctions Tuesday in an arduous election day.

When polls closed at 7 p.m. at the Steamboat Pilot and Today, one of eight voting centers in the county, there were still more than 150 people waiting to vote on one of the four electronic voting machines at the site. Dozens and dozens of voters gave up and left without casting ballots. Some voters waited nearly four hours to vote.

Similar scenes played out at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, Yampa Valley Medical Center and the courthouse. Voting went smoother in Hayden, but after 5 p.m., waits of more than an hour were reprted.

Everyone in line by 7 p.m. was told they would be allowed to vote.

Some approached the wait with optimism and humor.

"Everybody is on a tight schedule, but it's worth the wait to vote," said Steamboat resident Dave Winters, 52.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," shrugged Steamboat resident Zach Handyside, 28.

A woman who declined to give her name said she was thankful of the opportunity to cast her ballot, regardless of the wait.

"We're lucky to live in this country and be able to vote," the woman said.

As more than 40 people waited for a turn at one four electronic voting machines at the Pilot & Today, just after 10 a.m. Tuesday, election volunteer Jo Stanko showed a picture of a voting machine to people in line and explained how to use the machines.

"The first thing you have to know, is that it won't blow up," Stanko joked.

One voter expressed dissatisfaction of the electronic machines that have replaced paper ballots in Routt County.

"The electronic voting machines are a bad idea, period," said 30-year-old Brandon Wejroch of Steamboat.

Meanwhile, Suzanne Schlicht, regional manager for WorldWest LLC, the parent company of the Pilot & Today, walked up and down the line offering coffee and handing out chairs to waiting voters.

"Do you need anything else?" Schlicht asked Handyside.

"Just a pillow and a blanket," Handyside quipped.

Weinland said a morning rush resulted in long lines.

"I think the lines will lessen as the day progresses, because we had that big influx of voters right at the beginning," Weinland said.

For voters with time on their hands, a drive to Hayden or South Routt could be a better option than a long wait in Steamboat.

"I do know that Hayden is doing well, and Yampa has no line," Weinland said.

Comments

bellyup 8 years ago

I sure hope the obsolete language I voted to remove from the Colorado constitution didn't have anything to do with death by hanging. Whomever decided to cut the number of polling places in Steamboat to just four could probably use a good hanging right now!!!

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jozy 8 years ago

I'm sure Ms. Weinland didn't expect this large of turnout....but yes, I agree....it was wrong. I heard that Ken Brenner even suggested that voters have an option at the polls to vote electronically or by paper ballot, but Ms. Weinland didn't think it'd b necessary. However, I'm sure that today she is thinking differently. If the option was out there it would make the wait in line less, but the wait for results would be a little longer. I think it would have been accepted by the voters waiting in line.

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palmer 8 years ago

Gone to vote....be back in three hours. I am so mad. I saw so many people leave...not that I blame them. I feel sorry for the candidates who worked so hard and spent so much money. A three hour wait is absurd. I can't believe I did it.

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Matthew Stoddard 8 years ago

Soooo....which party will cry "Disfranchisement!" first? Good for you, though, Palmer. Waiting to vote sucks, but at least you get counted.

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Mckoby 8 years ago

After visiting the polls three times throughout the day and in different locations, we were forced to drive to Hayden to cast our vote since we didn't have 2-3 hours to hang out. We have never been so angry with the lack of planning. Paper ballots should have been ready as a back up and handed out to voters as an option. I am saddened that the lack of judgement by our Clerk and Recorder caused so many of our community members to walk away from the voting booths today. I would hate to think that this poor planning could affect the passing of several important ballot issues for the city of Steamboat and our state. I am very dissappointed and angry and if there would have been another candidate next to Ms. Weinland's name I would have voted for them instead.

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linus 8 years ago

This is an illegitimate election. I am furious at the poor planning that resulted in many, many Steamboat voters being unable to vote. Those of us with young children cannot wait in line for two or three hours. I've been checking with friends since mid-day and the wait everywhere was two hours or more. It's now 6:25 and I was told when calling the "election info line" that if I show up by 7:00 I can vote but the wait will probably be at least 2 hours. When I complained that that was unacceptable, I was snottily told that there was early voting for two weeks and I should have come and voted then! I have never had to wait to vote before in Steamboat in 13 years and if I want to vote on election day I should be able to. So at this point if my husband and I both want to vote, we have to take our three small children to stand somewhere for two or more hours. What a crock!

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shoemaker 8 years ago

I attempted to vote at each of the voting locations today, but, due to time, I had to leave each place without casting my vote. It's my understanding that we, as citizens of this country, have the right to vote. We have been denied that right because of the process that has been put in place, denied that right by our County Clerk or that office's decisions. I am saddened at outraged at todays events. I only hope that we can do something about it.

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wizzer 8 years ago

It is frustrating. If it is any consolation, the problem is just as bad in Denver. Obviously, we need more voting machines. Yes, elections just got more expensive. Four voting machines at one of four loactions in a city of 10,000 plus people is just not going to cut it. If there are 150 people waiting for those four machines, and they each take 5+ minutes to vote, the math tells the story.

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workerbee 8 years ago

There was early voting that you all could have done, or you could have requested an absentee ballot. I agree that it wasn't the best organized election day, but it's true people didn't come prepared!

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OnTheBusGus 8 years ago

I thought that computers were supposed to make things faster and more efficient. I did not see any of that happening today! So, instead of those counting the votes spending time counting paper ballots, the public has to spend time in line. Puzzling...

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