Photo by John F. Russell
Election judges, from right, Barb De Vries, Catherine Carson and Lynn Abbott process ballots for the city of Steamboat Springs’ vote on Steamboat 700. This is the first day that judges were able to open envelopes and process ballots. More than 2,600 ballots have been cast.
Learn more about the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation at www.steamboatpilot.com/news/steamboat700/.
Vote on 700
■ Ballots for the mail-only election have been sent to city voters. City Hall is the only place for voters to return their ballots, by mail or drop-off. City Hall is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
■ City Hall will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, and from 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, so voters can return ballots. Voters can receive ballots through Tuesday at City Hall.
■ The mailing address is: City Clerk’s Office, 137 10th St., Steamboat Springs, CO 80477. One normal postage stamp is sufficient for ballot mailing.
■ Steamboat 700 is a proposed master-planned community on 487 acres adjacent to the western city limits of Steamboat Springs. The project proposes about 2,000 homes — from apartments to single-family home lots — and 380,000 square feet of commercial development that would be built to the standards of new urbanism (dense, walkable and transit-friendly).
Steamboat Springs Election judges began processing ballots Wednesday for a Steamboat 700 election that could surpass 5,000 votes by city residents.
“I think it’s pretty realistic to think that it will,” Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said about that landmark, which would represent a turnout of about 79 percent.
Steamboat Springs City Clerk Julie Franklin said Wednesday afternoon that 2,682 Steamboat residents had voted on the proposed annexation, which proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space on a site just west of current city limits throughout a 20- to 30-year development timeframe. Weinland said she “absolutely” has seen a local history of voting surges at the end of elections, meaning turnout could increase dramatically in coming days.
City Hall is preparing for a late rush by opening from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, and from 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturday so voters can return ballots. Franklin said the deadline has passed to request a ballot by mail but that voters can receive ballots in person through Tuesday at City Hall.
For registered voters who have lost or not received a ballot, replacement ballot forms are available at City Hall and online at www.steamboatsprings.net, through the “Departments” and “City Clerk” links. Registered voters can call or visit City Hall to check or update their address. City Hall’s main phone number is 970-879-2060.
Franklin said voters’ status was changed to “inactive” if they did not vote in the November 2008 election. Voters also can be listed as inactive if their ballot was mailed to an undeliverable address last year.
To change that status back to “active,” voters can complete and return the “application for mail ballot by an inactive voter” form on the city’s Web site. The form also is at City Hall and may be filed anytime before Tuesday.
Wednesday on the third floor of the Routt County Courthouse, election judges Joanie Clark, Shauna Lamansky, Lynn Abbott, Catherine Carson and Barb De Vries opened envelopes, checked signatures, double-checked ballot counts and prepared ballots for scanning. For each ballot, different judges opened the envelope and the “secrecy sleeve” inside.
“You can never see the name at the same time as you see the ballot,” Abbott said.
Lamansky said residents have asked her whether, as a judge, she can connect names to votes. She and Carson commented that with the flood of ballots, they don’t care at all about — and could never track — whose name is where.
“Even if you cared, you still couldn’t” track names, Abbott said, citing the security measures with ballots and the sorting process.
“But you gotta watch Barb,” Carson joked.
De Vries is a 30-year member of the League of Women Voters and has been a local election judge since 1968.
Turnout for the Steamboat 700 vote should easily pass city turnout in the fall, when 3,337 city residents voted. Weinland, who took office in 1995, said the highest local turnout she can recall was in 2004, when 92 percent of active county voters — or 11,810 people — cast ballots.
For Steamboat to reach that percentage in its annexation vote, 5,875 people would have to cast a ballot.
A city intergovernmental agreement with Routt County, approved last month and detailing county assistance with the city-run election, cites 6,386 active voters in city limits.