Steamboat Springs resident Bud Romberg highlights the names of people who have returned ballots Friday at the Routt County Courthouse. Residents younger than 45 account for just one-fifth of the ballots cast in Routt County's 2009 election, even though about half of the county's registered voters are in that age group.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs resident Bud Romberg highlights the names of people who have returned ballots Friday at the Routt County Courthouse. Residents younger than 45 account for just one-fifth of the ballots cast in Routt County's 2009 election, even though about half of the county's registered voters are in that age group.

Youth vote largely absent in Routt County

Fewer than 600 people younger than 45 have voted

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Election 2009

Visit www.steamboatpilot.com/election2009 for complete coverage of this year's races and issues.

At a glance

- If you haven't received a ballot and think you should have - or have any questions about this year's election - visit the Routt County Elections Office in the Routt County Courthouse or call 970-870-5558.

- Electronic voting is available for disabled voters or any voter who chooses to vote electronically, at the Elections Office on the third floor of the Routt County Courthouse.

- 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. It is too late to return a ballot by mail, but voters can take them to any of the drop-off locations by 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

- Voters will receive ballots specific to where they live. For example, South Routt residents won't receive ballots because there are no contested school board races or city elections there.

By the numbers

Routt County registered voters by age group

Age Range, Voter Count, Percentage

18-24, 1,530, 9.3

25-34, 3,363, 20.4

35-44, 3,174, 19.3

45-54, 3,539, 21.5

55-64, 3,190, 19.4

65+, 1,671, 10.1

Totals, 16,467, 100

Voters in 2009 election by age group*

Age Range, Voter Count, Percentage

18-24, 62, 2.2

25-34, 159, 5.7

35-44, 371, 13.3

45-54, 661, 23.6

55-64, 911, 32.6

65+, 631, 22.6

Unknown, 2, 0.001

Totals, 2,797, 100

* Through Friday; ballots are being accepted until 7 p.m. Tuesday

Source: Colorado Secretary of State's Office, Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office

— Residents younger than 45 account for just one-fifth of the ballots cast in Routt County's 2009 election, even though about half of the county's registered voters are in that age group.

The discrepancy has caused some to worry that the county's first election conducted exclusively with mail-in ballots may not be conducive to young voters. Others have been motivated to try to mobilize the youth vote.

"I'm personally very troubled," said Marion Ayer, of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Young Professionals Network. "The issues the (Steamboat Springs) City Council faces affect our young people the most. : If the younger generation people are not getting out and voting, they're not going to feel connected to the community."

Ayer said she intended to e-mail the network's members to encourage them to vote if they had not and said the group also might engage in a telephone call campaign. Ayer said issues frequently debated at City Council meetings - including affordable housing, child care, jobs and the amenities of the community - should be of particular interest to young people.

Those who haven't received a ballot and think they should have - or have any other questions - should visit the Routt County Elections Office in the Routt County Courthouse or call 970-870-5558. Completed ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Tuesday. It is too late to return ballots by mail, but they still can be dropped off at the elections office or one of the other four drop-off locations across the county. An electronic voting machine made available for disabled voters also may be used by anyone else who wants to through 7 p.m. Tuesday at the elections office.

About 8,000, or 49 percent, of Routt County's registered voters are younger than 45. Through Friday, Routt County had received and certified 2,797 ballots. Only 592, or 21.2 percent, came from voters younger than 45.

Chrissey Faessen, a spokeswoman for Washington, D.C.-based Rock the Vote, said Colorado's young voters used mail-in ballots just as much as other age groups and that young voters' share of the electorate grew in 2008 even as 60 percent of ballots were cast by mail. Rock the Vote is an advocacy group that works to engage young people in the political process.

"In fact, in some cases (a mail-ballot election) proves to be more convenient when (young voters) can't stand in long lines due to their work and school schedules," Faessen wrote in an e-mail. "That being said, the problem with mail and young voters is they are more likely to move and not re-register before these types of local elections so they never get a ballot."

Faessen said mail-in ballots should be combined with same-day registration, automatic registration, online registration and other "access strategies" to give young voters more options.

Steamboat Springs City Councilman Jon Quinn, who is not up for election, said although he initially didn't have any concerns about a mail-ballot election, he now shares Faessen's concerns about transient young people. Of the about 1,600 ballots that have been returned to the county as undeliverable, Quinn guessed a large majority belonged to young voters.

Quinn said he is particularly troubled by the lack of votes from younger residents because he thinks they represent the working class of the community.

"I think that a lot hinges on this election," Quinn said. "I think the future of the middle class in Steamboat is going to kind of be up for grabs. : This election is going to be really telling about the future of this group in Steamboat."

At 2,797, the number of votes cast so far also is low compared with previous odd-year elections. In the city of Steamboat Springs, 1,734 people have voted. More than 6,000 people voted in Routt County's 2007 election, including about 3,500 city residents.

In Steamboat, there are three contested City Council races and one contested School Board race.

In Hayden, there are two tax questions on the ballot and two contested School Board races. There are no elections in South Routt County this fall, which accounts for some of the decrease in the number of votes cast countywide.

Comments

sledneck 5 years, 1 month ago

I am thrilled that younger people are not voting. They are generally uninformed about the true nature of government and business. They exibit little understanding of the intended structure of this republic (not democracy, a lynch mob is a democracy). They don't know what it takes to make payroll every week ( it takes more than a credit line at a bank). Their heart strings are too easily pulled by propaganda.

Not only am I glad they are not voting, I wish there were qualifications for voting beyond age and citizenship. When questioned about the very basics of constitutional government and/ or economics I find their lack of knowledge disturbing. There should be some requirement (beyond having a pulse) of basic understanding between every citizen and the voting booth.

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runnerbikerdriver44 5 years, 1 month ago

Wow. Sounds like the "Good Ol' Boys Club" is trying to make sure things go their way. You know what I think? I wish old voters would stop voting, so we would be able to get away from this bi-partisan squabble that is ruining our country, and get people who are not ruled by ulterior motives and actually care about the general population in to office.

So as far as qualifications go, what would you require sledneck? People that can vote across party lines and can make fair decisions? Please tell me. The younger voters are dying to know.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 1 month ago

Most young voters are not that involved at this point in their lives, having uninformed votes cast is not good. Going back to the old way let's political entities try io influence elections by herding warm blood to the polls. I like to leave the responsibility to the individual.

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sledneck 5 years, 1 month ago

I am glad you asked. I am a libertarian so voting across party lines is not a problem for me nor is agreeing that the bi-partisan squabble is killing the country.

I would like to see voters qualify to vote by demonstrating some basic understanding of the system by which they are ruled. That system, although woefully perverted, is centered around the Constitution. Therefore, some qualifying questions might be... 1. How many branches are there in the federal government? 2. How many senators represent your state? 3. Point to your state on a map. 4. What is the length of term for each senator from your state? 5. What is the fed. governments chief source of revenue? 6. Name 3 rights given to you in the Bill of Rights. 7. What is the guiding document upon which this nations laws are based? 8. Name the branches of government. 9. What is the main reason for multiple branches? (3 words) 10. How does a democracy differ from a representative republic? 11. Is Americe a democracy or representative republic?

One of these is a trick question. Can anyone tell me which one and why?

If a person can not answer all of those basic questions they absolutely should not vote. I guarantee that a lot of people of all ages would not pass.

Furthermore, when you hold shares in a public company (like IBM or Microsoft) you vote your shares. That means if I own 10 shares and you own 10 million shares you get a heck of a lot more say so as to how that company is managed. The same should be true of government! An alternative is a vote for every year you paid taxes or how about a vote for every year you held a job?

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

sledneck- What makes you think that our government could handle such a complex system of "voting power?" And am I the only one that sees how ridiculous of a bias this offers against young people?

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't like the idea of social engineers looking out for those that have little interest in politics. No good will ever come of this, let the 'need to be needed" crowd tend to their own knitting.

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sledneck 5 years, 1 month ago

You are right, the list of things our goverment can't handle is long and growing. Medicare, Social Security, Educatoin, Border, FEMA, National Debt, etc. And now healthcare from a government that can't even get us a flue shot!

So ask yourself, why is government in charge of that long list? Power abhors a vacuum. Since so many Americans are reluctant to retain this power for themselves (as is their right and duty under the constitution) it has fallen to government. I think voters have, by default, put government in charge of things that are not the domain of government

The reasons I think the voters did so are several but one is clearly out of ignorance regarding the constitutional purpose of government. I could list and explain another reason but it would only start a fight.

My intent would be to bias the system not against the young or old or black or white, etc; but against the ignorant. The purpose of this suggestion (besides getting us all to think a little bit) is to advance the idea that people should have a "vested interest" in their country if they expect to influence its function.

I believe that when people vote without knowledge they tend to vote for immediate gratification, whoever sounds the best on t.v. or the one that promises the most largess from the public coffers rather than the person who understands the true intent of the constitution. They tend to vote for the party daddy voted for or the party the preacher recommends without knowing the issues.

How would it harm the electorate to consist of only those who understood governments intended function? Would you let some bumpkin off the street come into the boardroom of a company in which you have invested your life savings and vote on your companys' future direction? Why are we doing that with our nation?

Still no takers on the trick question from above? Surely somebody knows.

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Brian Kotowski 5 years, 1 month ago

mmjPatient22:

How on earth does being MINIMALLY informed regarding basic civics and American governance translate into a "ridiculous bias"? Is it "ridiculous[ly] bias[ed]" to desire an informed electorate? If so, why? Have you ever looked at the exam immigrants wishing to become naturalized are required to pass? Is that threshold "ridiculous[ly] bias[ed]"? If not, why not? If so, why?

While I see nothing wrong with sledneck's litmus, we all know it'll never fly. On the other hand, the real world tends to weed out the ignorant. The reality, as this article spotlights, is that young people don't get involved. Hell, it's considered a benchmark when even half the voting population turns out for national elections, never mind local ones (I was always amused during the Cold War when the Soviets trumpeted the 90+% turnouts for their "elections").

I am delighted that the deliberately uninvolved remain so. Leave grownup decisions to the grownups.

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sparkle 5 years, 1 month ago

AGM, what drives your negative emails against candidates? Did lose in a previous election to them? What has kept you from running against these individuals who you you believe are so unqualified? What has been so toxic about this election has been the unwarranted attempt at character defamation that has been so pervasive. Do you and your buddies think that the younger and all other voters cannot see through this? Your plans have back fired. We want what is best for Steamboat Springs. Just because you drive a "smart car", doesn't mean you're smart.

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

Or......instead of abandoning the opinions of the alleged "hopelessly ignorant" youth of our nation, why don't we focus more on educating those that are eligible, or soon to eligible, to vote? The bias comes from the fact that youth are inherently less experienced, and subsequently less knowledgeable, about our government because of the very fact that their years are limited and so are the number of people who care to educate them on the topic. The unfortunate side of letting all the "grown-ups" make all the decisions is that the "grown-ups" sometimes forget that the kids get stuck with the bill, and not just monetarily.

And I think that in order for us to have any kind of serious discussion about citizenship requirements for our nation, first we need to talk about illegal immigration. Who cares who's a legal citizen if anyone can get into the country if they try hard enough? Granted, American citizenship is a prized achievement to many cultures in the world. However, and I think most new citizens would agree, the flood of border jumpers are a slap in the face to people that take the time to earn their citizenship.

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AGM 5 years, 1 month ago

Actually this might work out well for our community. Those young people that are new to town don't have much knowledge of how bad a couple of candidates were while they were previously in office. If the older crowd votes, they'll remember how terrible two of the candidates that previously served a number of years ago really were and will not vote them in again.

For those young voters still planning on voting, please remember: 1. just because a candidate wears a cowboy hat doesn't mean he's a cowboy or has any traditional ethics of a cowboy 2. one candidate recently said he wouldn't put the welcome mat out for anyone - now if that doesn't give the warm and fuzzy and have you feel welcome in this community, I don't know what does. Talk about running on a solo platform.... 3. The other clearly has an agenda of no growth, he even advertises it.

It really strikes me as crazy when these 3 no-growth candidates try to give the impression that they have no ties to one another or that they are running for the same thing. They've attempted to be so "independent" throughout this election and it is laughable.

Please do your homework before voting as their are some toxic candidates out there.

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runnerbikerdriver44 5 years, 1 month ago

Sledneck-herein lies the problem-is any of that information on a standardized test? Do CSAPs even care about that info? If it's not on there, it is less likely to be stressed in the classroom. Also, doesn't your reasoning say that if you are uneducated, than you have no right to vote? How is that a democracy?

I agree that education is key, but how are people expected to be educated when not everyone is allowed to participate in debates? There are so many candidates out there who have to rely on people searching for their platform for voters to even find out they are running. Until the government and politics are willing to open up the doors to every candidate, are we ever truly "well informed?"

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 1 month ago

Why stop there with qualifications? I can answer those questions, but I am far less knowledgeable than a constitutional lawyer so maybe only constitutional lawyers should be allowed to vote. Or how about restricting voting to property owners like the Founding Fathers intended?

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sledneck 5 years, 1 month ago

Runner, The fact that the info is not taught is the problem. Are you saying that you actually want uneducated people voting? This country is not supposed to be a democracy. If you are ignorant (of the issues or system) you should not vote... ever.

Why do so many think that this nation should allow idiots with no vested interest to participate in the management if it? Do any of you know a succesfull company that does that? Would any of you invest your hard earned $$$ in a company who let everyone come in off the street and give orders? Are we really that far gone?

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ybul 5 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately as Plato remarked that a democracy would devolve into mob rule. Everyone looking to the government to provide for or protect their interests. Unfortunately this leads to the will of the majority squelching the interests of the minority. It also allows those with the ability to "educate" the masses, through school or media, to their agenda to have that agenda play out.

Unfortunately the 17th amendment to the constitution was enacted and has facilitated the best democracy that money can buy, even though we live in a constitutional republic. Even though some sort of reform was needed to ensure representation.

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sledneck 5 years, 1 month ago

Now there you go Scott! Only property owners voting is a concept I could get behind... big time! Glad someone remembers their history.

Having a vested interest in something causes you to take care of it. The term "drive it like you stole it" is all one needs to understand to know that non-vested votes are destroying this nation.

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sledneck 5 years, 1 month ago

Runner,

Actually, "back in the day" uneducated farmers understood the constitutional powers and limitations of government. And they coveted education for themselves and their children.

My definition, for the sake of this discussion, is educated about the constitutional powers and limitations of government. One can have more "degrees" than a thermometer and still not understand the basic concepts of life, liberty and property. I'm not saying one must have math, computer, mechanical, chemistry, or agriculture knowledge to qualify to vote; I'm saying one should have knowledge of constitutional precepts and governmental function.

With all the information available at our fingertips there is no excuse for ignorance. It is laziness... nothing more. If people want to live in blissful ignorance that is their perrogative but they should not be flying the plane if they refuse to learn about how it was designed.

I agree that the electorate is increasingly ignorant and that is unfortunate. I will not, however, allow the blame for that to be placed on anyone but the individual.

I totally disagree about "punishing people for being ignorant". That is, in fact, exactly what society should do... punish ignorance. Nowhere else in nature are the slow, fat, lazy, or stupid protected. Those without "passion" and the intelligence it produces should absolutely be shut out. If you don't know how to drive, don't drive. If you cant handle a firearm, don't hunt. If you can't fix a car you don't qualify to be a mechanic... pretty simple.

Passion is not something you impart to another individual. Nor does passion alone guarantee sucess. I could be passionate about singing, for example, but if I can't carry a tune in a bucket all the passion in the world won't make me a good singer. If I am a bad singer what will Simon (on American idol)say about me? Should he send me forward or send me home with a dose of reality?

Perhaps, if the lazy people were excluded from the process, it would serve to motivate them. It is not and should not be societys responsibility to motivate, inspire, educate. For a simple, intelligent explaination of the purpose of government and why society established it I would encourage everyone to read one of the finest and most concise books ever written on the subject... Bastiats', The Law.

Our willingness to indulge ignorance is actually causing more of it. "The ultimate result of protecting men from their folly is to fill the world with fools". Thanks for the discussion,

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untamedShrewd 5 years, 1 month ago

Is any one else concerned that the paper posted a downloadable Excel spread sheet with this article? It indicates your full name, year of birth, party affiliation and when you voted. I, for one, feel this is personal info that I'd rather not be sharing with every one. Please paper, remove this document. And think ahead next time before posting info such as this. Paper employees who did not vote (accoding to your spread sheet): Blythe Terrell, Allison Miriani, Mike Lawrence, Margaret Hair, Zach Fridell, Jack Weinstein, Matt Stensland, Luke Graham, Joel Reichenberger, Christopher Woytko, Laura Mazade, Leslie Small, Mike Polucci, Mary Beth Magalis, Kerry Crimmins, Deb Proper, Erich Strotbeck, Blake Stansbery, Amy Ingram-Fleeson, Erin Orr, Christy Woodland, Tricia Langevin, Steve Balgenorth, Tyler Jacobs, Ashley McMurray. So does this mean that several employees of the paper are uninformed?

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runnerbikerdriver44 5 years, 1 month ago

"Are you saying you want uneducated people to vote?" I did not say that; I was questioning your logic. Would you go back in the day to a farmer, who was uneducated because what mattered to him more was working on the farm, and tell him he wasn't allowed to vote because they were "uneducated?" Here's a fact for you-over the years, the presidential campaign speeches have gone from a twelfth grade vocabulary, down to a seventh grade vocabulary. Think about Obama's platform-Change. One word. Easy for everyone to understand. The fact of the matter is the standards for education have gone down in the past 100 years. If the standards aren't brought up, then how can you say that idiots aren't allowed to vote, when in fact that is what we as a culture are creating? You can't punish people for being ignorant when we are the ones who created this system. They use to make African Americans take a reading test prior to allowing them to vote, and that was hardly constitutional.

I do agree that people who a voting for politicians based on what they see, rather than what they have discovered in their own process of seeking, is dangerous. Just because we haven't created a passion in people to care about voting, doesn't mean we should shut them out on Election Day. I am part of the younger voting crowd, and my parents instilled in me my social responsibility when it came to voting. As much as I blame younger generations for being less involved with politics and not really caring about what people really stand for in campaigns, I also place the blame on older generations for not being able to create this sense of importance for the rest of my generation.

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bubba 5 years, 1 month ago

How dare they post public records on a news website! Next thing you know they'll be posting property information on the assessor's website!

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mmjPatient22 5 years, 1 month ago

Could you even imagine if something this careless took place in the Middle East somewhere? A great many of the women on the list would be in grave danger! Regardless of whether or not it's a matter of public record, available for anyone to seek out, this information should have been thought-over a little more before it was published along-side a "news" article in any community. It should have been thought about a lot more, actually. At least they didn't completely lose their minds and publish a bunch of addresses, phone numbers or any other kind of volatile information. Lord knows how they avoided giving out contact information for the guy who got in a fight with his wife.

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