Election 2009 key dates and notes
- Monday is the deadline to register to vote. Log on to www.steamboatpilot.com/election2009 to download registration forms and to verify your voter status. Voters also can stop by the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office in the Routt County Courthouse.
- Ballots will be mailed between Oct. 13 and 16 to all active Routt County registered voters. If you're an active voter and your voter registration information is current, you don't need to request a ballot. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward ballots; check to make sure your registered address is current. If you haven't received your ballot by Oct. 19, call the Clerk and Recorder's Office at 970-870-5556.
- Oct. 27 is the last day to request a ballot be mailed to you.
- Oct. 30 is the last day to request a "carried" mail ballot. These requests must be made in person at the Clerk and Recorder's Office in Steamboat Springs.
- If returning your ballot via mail, normal postage is required.
- There are five drop-off locations in Routt County for voters to submit their completed ballots: Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office, Yampa Town Hall, Oak Creek Town Hall, Hayden Town Hall and the Clark Store.
- All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Nov. 3. Voters should not mail their ballots after Oct. 29.
- Voters will receive ballots specific to where they live. For example, South Routt residents won't receive ballots next month because there are no contested school board races or city elections there.
- Voters who have any questions about the mail-in ballot process should call the Clerk and Recorder's Office at 870-5556.
Steamboat Springs Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland wants voters to keep a number of dates in mind this election season - but Election Day itself isn't one of the most important.
There will be no polls, no booths and no voting machines this year.
The election will be conducted with mail ballots only, and Election Day proper is a mere deadline to return those ballots.
While this is the first time Routt County has conducted a mail-only election, Weinland said Wednesday that she is comfortable that the word has gotten out.
Weinland said about 70 percent of Routt County voters are already signed up to permanently receive mail-in ballots.
"That tells me there's a real strong preference for that method of voting," she said.
Monday is the last day to register to vote, and it is also the last day for voters to update their addresses - if the address has changed - to ensure that they will receive a ballot. Weinland said ballots will arrive in mailboxes between Oct. 13 and 16.
"If they haven't gotten them by that week, they should contact us," Weinland said.
Voters should not rely on ballots being forwarded to a new address.
"Ballots cannot be forwarded," Weinland said. "That's one of the safety precautions."
If a ballot is returned to the county, however, it can be reissued. Oct. 27 is the last day for voters to request that a ballot be mailed to them if they have not received it yet. Oct. 30 is the last day for voters to receive a ballot over the counter at the Clerk's Office.
Other security measures include signature verification and software that recognizes when a voter's ballot has been returned and prevents the county from issuing that voter another ballot. Weinland also said mail-ballot processing does not compromise confidentiality.
"It's a very private process, and we make sure the secrecy of the vote is protected," she said.
Light ballot this year
Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, by mail or at one of five drop-off locations throughout the county: Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office, Yampa Town Hall, Oak Creek Town Hall, Hayden Town Hall and the Clark Store.
"I would also like to encourage people to get their ballots in as soon as possible," Weinland said. "If we get jammed up with ballots on election night, it will delay results."
While ballots can be processed as they are received, votes cannot be tallied until after 7 p.m. Nov. 3 and after all ballots have been scanned. That means there will be one report issued on Election Day with the final results of the election, rather than results that are updated throughout the night keeping the outcome of some races in limbo.
Also simplifying this year's election is the small number of decisions to be made - which is in stark contrast to last year's massive ballot that included more than a dozen state questions and a presidential race.
This year's ballot includes three contested Steamboat Springs City Council races, one contested Steamboat Springs School Board race, two contested Hayden School Board races, two town of Hayden tax questions and one city of Steamboat Springs referendum issue.
"The only taxing questions we have for this election are for Hayden," Weinland said. "It's a short ballot. I think everybody's kind of ready for a year without a whole bunch of issues to review and learn about."
Weinland will give a presentation on this year's election at a candidates forum from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. The forum is sponsored by Steamboat Pilot & Today, Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors, Routt County Democratic Party and Routt County Republican Party.
The Steamboat Springs City Council and School Board candidates will attend. The forum will be rebroadcast on Steamboat TV18 throughout the election cycle.
Voters also can log onto www.steamboatpilot.com/election2009 for additional voter information, election stories and coverage, and detailed video interviews with each Steamboat Springs City Council candidate.
- To reach Brandon Gee, call 367-7507 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org