Steamboat Springs Routt County had a 42 percent turnout in this year’s primary election that ended Tuesday, far surpassing previous years as the county switched to an all-mail election. Previous primaries this decade have seen turnouts as low as 3 percent, clerks reported.
About 9,000 ballots were sent to active Democrat, Republican and Libertarian voters, and 3,897 were returned. About 600 ballots could not be delivered because voters had not updated their mailing addresses.
Routt County Election Supervisor Vicki Weber said about 30 ballots either did not have signatures or had signatures that could not be verified. Those voters will get a letter in the mail and can return to cast their votes. Three ballots also were being held because of questions about voter eligibility.
Although voters still are encouraged to verify their signatures, no county race is close enough that the uncounted votes will make a difference.
Weber said the same races were on the primary ballots in 2006 and 2002. The total turnout in 2006 was 18 percent, she said, and the 2002 turnout was 3 percent.
The Republican primary for Routt County Sheriff’s Office was the most active vote in the county, with 2,271 votes cast. Only 49 Republican ballots were returned that did not have a vote for either candidate, Nick Bosick or Garrett Wiggins.
Weber said the mail-in ballot system increased voter turnout and made it easier for clerks and judges to count the ballots. Law allows the judges to begin processing ballots sooner, but they cannot be counted until 7 p.m. on Election Day.
The poll judges began the process of scanning all ballots in the days before the results were announced by verifying signatures and feeding them through a scanning machine. In the process, the names were removed from the ballots before the votes were revealed to preserve the privacy of the vote.