Steamboat Springs The tallying of mail-in ballots extended past midnight and into this morning, causing election night complications stemming from a coding error that was announced Oct. 20 and rendered unreadable more than 5,700 ballots mailed to county voters.
Election judges and county election staff still were working late to process ballots at the Routt County Courthouse, finishing at about 2:30 a.m. Teams of election judges had hand-copied more than 3,300 ballots since Oct. 22 as a result of the coding error. Those ballots had to be scanned and tallied in a time-consuming process.
Regardless, this year’s election drew a strong turnout in Routt County. In the governor's race, where the most votes were recorded, 9,090 county residents voted. That amounted to 68 percent of the 13,322 people registered to vote in Routt.
By 5 p.m. Tuesday, thousands of voters had turned out to local polling places.
Routt County resident Chris Sachs said some pressing issues encouraged her to perform what she called her civic duty.
“With the way the economy is right now, you have to be concerned,” she said. “If I don’t vote, then I don’t have the right to complain.”
Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said her office was “frantic” all day Tuesday.
Steve Corzette was the poll supervisor at the Routt County Courthouse Annex. He said many people mistakenly showed up Tuesday to vote at the annex, which was the location for early voting that ended Friday. Those voters had to be directed to their proper polling location elsewhere, he said.
“We have sent hundreds to other precincts,” Corzette said Tuesday evening.
Heavy early voting turnout indicated a strong turnout for this year’s hotly contested midterm election.
Weinland said 5,376 of the county’s 13,000 registered voters had either turned in their mail-in ballot or voted early via electronic voting machines before the polls opened Tuesday.
By 6:20 p.m. Tuesday, election judges had hand-copied 3,325 mail-in ballots.
Weinland praised the bipartisan teams of election judges who copied the ballots in four-hour shifts under video surveillance.
“They’re critical, and we can’t do it without them,” Weinland said. “And they’ve been doing a wonderful job.”
Election judge Ron McMorris said an audit of the copying process found an error Tuesday. Weinland said a vote for a judge that was filled out on an original, unreadable ballot had not been copied onto the new ballot.
Weinland said when the error was discovered, the entire corresponding batch of 100 ballots was recopied.
It was the first error found in audits of the ballot-copying process, she said.
Check www.steamboatpilot.com today for an update on voter turnout and more details about Tuesday night’s vote tallying.
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