Resident Jim Ruggiero drops off his ballot to Routt County Clerk Barbara Houston on Wednesday morning at the Routt County Courthouse.

Photo by John F. Russell

Resident Jim Ruggiero drops off his ballot to Routt County Clerk Barbara Houston on Wednesday morning at the Routt County Courthouse.

Dispensary owners help boost number of county’s registered voters


Election 2011

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Inactive voters can cast ballots at the Routt County Courthouse until 7 p.m. Nov. 1.

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Oct. 19, 2011: Routt County clerk and recorder: Completed ballots ‘flooding in’

— Issues and races in the 2011 election will be decided by a list of registered voters that is the second longest in Routt County history.

And while some of that number likely is a product of the county’s growth — 19.4 percent in the past decade, according to the most recent U.S. census — voter registration also is getting a boost from at least one local contingency. The groups opposing four ballot measures that ask voters whether to ban medical marijuana are encouraging, and in one case actually registering, voters.

“I got 1,000 forms, and about half are gone,” said Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher, who hosted a voter registration drive this fall.

The county has 17,660 registered voters for the Nov. 1 election, nearly 400 more registered voters than last year and about 1,200 more than the election in 2009. This year’s total is the second highest on record, trailing only the 2008 presidential election, when 17,850 county residents were registered voters.

Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said it’s unusual to have a large increase in voter registration during an odd-year election.

“I think that there’s strong feelings on the issues this year, which brings people out to vote,” Weinland said. “I think for an odd-year election, we’ll have better-than-normal turnout. But I’m the clerk. I’m always hoping for better turnout.”

All Routt County voters are being asked whether to ban medical marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas of the county, and similar questions are being asked of voters within Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Yampa city limits. Steamboat voters also will consider a measure to supplement funding that provides revenue guarantees to the airlines that fly into Yampa Valley Regional Airport during ski season.

There are Steamboat Springs City Council seats up for grabs and contested races for Steamboat Springs and South Routt school board seats. West Routt Fire Protection District and Oak Creek voters also will consider tax increases.

While the number of registered voters is the second highest in county history, the number of inactive voters — those who didn’t complete ballots in the 2010 general election — is greater than in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 elections. The 6,110 inactive voters this year means there are a total of 11,550 active voters for the 2011 election here. But those inactive voters are registered and only need to cast a ballot this year to change their status.

In preparation for the election, Fisher said he got certified to host a voter registration drive. It required him to take online training, get a perfect score on a test and register his committee, Sensible Steamboat, with the Colorado Secretary of State. Hosting a voter registration drive allowed him to register voters using forms he submitted to the county Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

“Frankly, it’s not against the law,” Weinland said. “That’s what I told the people who were alarmed. It’s within the structure of the law. I can’t do anything about it.”

Secretary of State spokesman Rich Coolidge said in an email that the office doesn’t track the numbers of voters registered by committees that have been approved to host voter registration drives.

Fisher wasn’t the only one to encourage his customers to vote. D&C Medical Marijuana & Therapeutic Massage co-owner Daryl Levin said he provided about 100 voter registration forms to customers.

“I don’t know if they all turned them in or not,” he said.

Levin said he didn’t just encourage people to vote so they could oppose the medical marijuana ballot measures. He said it’s important that people understand the issues in the community.

Aloha’s owner Chris Ward agreed. Ward said he also encouraged customers to vote but couldn’t say how many.

“Most of the people we talked to are registered voters,” he said. “We just encouraged them to cast their vote.”

Dr. Kelly Victory, who co-founded a group that opposes medical marijuana businesses, previously said the organization didn’t actively encourage people to become registered voters.

“We did not launch any effort or in any way attempt to interfere with the voting process,” she said.

The same goes for the Routt County Republican Central Committee, whose chairman, Chuck McConnell, said that although many Republicans he has talked to support a ban on marijuana businesses, the local party didn’t officially take a position on the issue.

Routt County Democrats chairwoman Catherine Carson couldn’t be reached for comment late last week.

Oct. 3 was the deadline to register to vote in this fall’s election.

County elections clerk Vicki Weber said the Clerk and Recorder’s Office continues to try to reach out to the county’s inactive voters, even after they’ve been sent five notifications. And she said their efforts are working.

“We’ve got a lot of people back, about 1,000 since the summer,” Weber said.

She said the number of inactive voters continues to shrink each day as people who didn’t vote in the 2010 general election or whose ballots were returned in the mail or were undeliverable have been coming in to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to vote.

Any inactive voter can cast a ballot at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office in the Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs until 7 p.m. Nov. 1.

Routt County voter registration and turnout

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email


Doug Matthews 5 years, 7 months ago

"Dr. Kelly Victory, who co-founded a group that opposes medical marijuana businesses, previously said the organization didn’t actively encourage people to become registered voters.

“We did not launch any effort or in any way attempt to interfere with the voting process,” she said."

ummm.... helping people get registered to vote for or against something they feel strongly about is "interfering" with an election?

Wow. Just wow. I don't smoke pot, but I believe it should be legalized and controlled. This ballot issue is about taking away oversight and control of raising and distribution of pot. Do it right, monitor the process and make sure legal protocols are followed, rather than exhibit knee-jerk reactions to perceived incidents of abuse.

Approach the issue with intelligence and reason. Medical marijuana is legal in Colorado. Don't have pot plants growing in everyone's back yards if you want to limit illicit usage.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 7 months ago

This reads like a tutorial on how to win an election and how to lose an election.

How to win an election - get your supporters registered to vote.

How to lose an election - believe that encouraging your supporters to vote is interfering with the election process.

The most incredulous part is how Dr Victory cited mmj publicity as being bad for tourism and now is most likely going to help create a famous victory for mmj.


kevin fisher 5 years, 7 months ago

Are you kidding me?

“Frankly, it’s not against the law,” Weinland said. “That’s what I told the people who were alarmed. It’s within the structure of the law. I can’t do anything about it.”

As country clerk, Ms. Weinland's quote should read something like this:

"It is my goal that every eligible voter in our county is registered. It is our inalienable right as U.S. citizens to participate in the political process by casting a ballot. I commend those who helped so many to have their voices heard."

People were "alarmed" that someone who disagrees with their position may actually do something about it and assert their Constitutional right to vote? Disgusting.


Ryan Fisher 5 years, 7 months ago

Well said routter.

How can anyone who opposes business and limited government call themselves a Republican? Those are the 2 pillars of that party.


Lisa Watts 5 years, 7 months ago

Google Voter Registration Abuse/Fraud. The list starts with ACORN. The specific and intentional registering of voters by special interest representatives to drive a particular voter result on a particular issue in which they have a direct monetary benefit is certainly not something I would ever consider, be proud of or righteously start waving the flag for. I firmly believe in every legal citizens right to vote with their voice being heard. There certainly needs to be more engaged voters in this country, I constantly encourage people I know to become more active, register to vote and have for many, many years.

I don't carry around voter registration cards to give to every like minded person for a targeted election, purpose or issue.

And I certainly don't have a stack of voter registration cards by my cash register in my pot shop business where my customers who purchase an illegal drug can run over and vote to protect their supply and I can attempt to ensure their continued dollars in my pocket.

My goodness; certainly the patriotic commitment by our local pot shops is beyond reproach. How could anyone possibly allege anything else?


trump_suit 5 years, 7 months ago


Are you accusing the dispenseries of voter registration fraud?

How many of those fraudulent registrations resulted in a vote or even an attempt to vote?

Just how large was the ACORN organization that they so completely affected American politics? What was their annual budget at the height of their dirty deeds?

What will you do if the voters of Steamboat and Routt County reject your opinion?


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 7 months ago

Plenty of patriots prefer pot. Displaying voter registration cards, for whatever reason, does not infer voter fraud. As much as I reviled ACORN, applying this much hyperbole to the MMJ controversy is beyond the pale.


Lisa Watts 5 years, 7 months ago

"In preparation for the election".....Mr. Fisher went online, took courses, registered a committee... that "allowed HIM to register voters using forms HE submitted to the county Clerk and Recorder’s Office."

Then these guys go further and state that Fisher wasn't the only one to "encourage" his CUSTOMERS to register....Levin did the same. Did Levin follow all the legal protocol Fisher did to "provide" his customers with registration cards?

I certainly don't recall Mr. Fisher or Mr. Levin or Sensible Steamboat holding a public voter registration drive in a public forum to register the public at large and give everyone equal opportunity to register to vote. Maybe I missed that posting in Happenings, that coverage by the Pilot, that invite to our community. The story says HE registered voters using forms that HE then submitted to the county Clerk and Recorder and HE encouraged HIS CUSTOMERS.

Geez, did HE fill the forms out as well?

Has Mr. Fisher or Mr. Levin historically been so enormously motivated to encourage the election process?

Let's not forget, as equally interesting as the enormous personal effort is that THEY personally stand to financially profit from a vote in their favor.

I said I would never participate in such behavior and stated my reasons why. Dr. Victory stated that we did not attempt to insert ourselves into the voter process.

The posters seem to have no problem in accusing Dr. Victory of picking and choosing who gets to vote by her statement. That somehow she only thinks that those agreeing with her position should vote.

I merely think the question should be asked-wouldn't Mr. Fisher and Mr. Levin's effort be exactly that, picking and choosing those that are inclined to vote and agree with them? A targeted effort for a targeted election for a targeted issue to a targeted voter block for a targeted result that they would personally profit from?

And I will sure stand up and call anyone down on eluding to the fact that Dr. Victory and I do not stand for the democratic process of everyone being able to vote. What we didn't do is what Fisher and Levin did do: "encourage" un-registered customers that may vote to ensure access to an illegal drug that just so happens to continue a personal financial gain.

What this community deduces from Mr Fisher and Mr. Levin's personal voter registration drive is left to every individual to determine for themselves. Mr. Fisher and Mr. Levin have very clearly stated themselves how far they are willing to go for a result that continues to line their pockets....what could I possibly accuse them of?


rhys jones 5 years, 7 months ago

Here is one financially-disinterested viewpoint, apparently rare in this discussion:

Mr. Fisher and Mr. Levin are to be lauded, pioneers of the day. They jumped through all the hoops, put themselves under the magnifying glass, to provide the community a much-needed service, at rates beating or equaling the illegal alternatives. For the purposes of this discussion, we will assume those legally licensed hurt enough to need it, each in their own way.

That the dispensaries have to remind the populace to defend our Constitutional rights can hardly be a surprise: Their businesses have been specifically targeted, not by any groundswell movement, but two militant ladies of questionable financial motivation and backing themselves (months later, and we have yet to hear one denial from the pharma girls) who spend their time padding our Halls of Justice (and outbuildings) in their blind crusade against the evil weed. I ask again: Who's paying YOUR bills, ladies?

So from this disinterested observer: Register!! Vote!! Send the ladies packing!!


sledneck 5 years, 7 months ago

Nowhere is the evidence of the electorates brainwashing more comlete than on the subject of voting.

Every other November, from the left and right come calls to "get out and vote"; yet who do they admonish??

It's like telling people who have never seen an airplane to "get out there and fly that plane"...


trump_suit 5 years, 7 months ago

It should be perfectly clear to everyone that there is a distinct difference between voter registration fraud, and making it easier for like minded citizens to become registered voters.

If there is actually fraud occurring with these registrations, I would encourage the County to take action immediately.

Not knowing the specifics, I would venture an opinion that the vast majority of voter registrations handed in by the dispenseries represent qualified residents with the constitutional responsibility to vote.

Pilot, will you allow this line of personal attack and innuendo by Lisa Watts? Is she allowed to accuse these individuals of a crime with absolutely zero evidence to support her comments?


rhys jones 5 years, 7 months ago

Lisa -- How many communities do you call "ours"? Please name one thing other than this drive either you or Dr. Victory has done for "our" community.


rhys jones 5 years, 7 months ago

If memory serves -- please correct as necessary -- Dr. Victory had direct and recent interests in Walgreen's, yet disavowed any interest in the impending local branch. This is what makes me think they are corporate.

They'll lose the war, even if they win this battle (not bloody likely). Anybody who has discovered the miracles mmj is capable of, will never return to the poisons they push. We'll find our meds -- it was always here, and always will be.

I'm finding fewer reasons to visit their new store when it opens, and more reasons not to.


rhys jones 5 years, 7 months ago

I repeat: JUST ONE THING. We're all ears.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 7 months ago

Registering your supporters and helping them to get to the polls is the most basic part of trying to win an election.

Merely registering people including your supporters is not voter fraud. And about all that someone like Kevin does when registering someone to vote is to give a form to whomever asks for one and returns all completed forms, no matter how obviously false, to the county for the county to validate prior to adding to the voter rolls.

Oh well, Lisa Watts makes registering people to vote seem as sinister as mmj dispensaries.


kevin fisher 5 years, 7 months ago

I have been doing my best to stay out of this thread, but try as I might, my hand has been forced.

As Scott noted, the most central tenet of our representative democracy is the right of the citizen's voice to be heard in an election. To encourage those who hold similar beliefs as oneself to cast a ballot is what America is all about.

Apparently, Ms. Watts feels otherwise.

We have done our best to run this campaign based upon the facts of the issue. Our opposition can often be cited as saying that they are "for an open debate about the legalization of marijuana" and that they "support legitimate patient access to cannabis." However, when it's brass tack's time, we are all "potheads," "pot shops" and "profiteers."

I sincerely believe that we are all entitled to own opinions. I am a kayaker and waterway conservationist. Imagine the discussions I have with my brethren when they find out that I am an anthropogenic global-warming skeptic. But, we address each other in our debates with respect. We listen to each others' voices. This Wednesday, I gave a presentation to the Routt County Democrats. Millie Flanigan attended and presented as my opposition. The consensus of those in attendance was that the forum was the most civil and respectful of the campaign season. Although Millie and I hold disparate views as to the role of cannabis in our community, I feel we parted as fellow Steamboaters with a mutual respect for one another.

The scare tactics, lies and innuendo espoused by Dr. Victory and Ms. Watts have no place in this beautiful enclave. As a resort town, we draw our populace from all corners and all walks. I know that I will be here in another ten years; Agree or not with my views about medical cannabis, I hope to still call those who share this special place my compatriots.

I encourage all those reading to cast their ballots. The scanner at the clerk's office judges not. Either way, freedom and democracy prevail.


sledneck 5 years, 7 months ago

I totally disagree with people telling others what to smoke, drink, etc. And I hate that people who want to ban things they disapprove of also associate themselves with libertarian movements like the Tea Party.

However, I think it is really wrong for you guys to personalize your attacks on Watts and Victory. Shows real malice.

Take your cause out of the medical arena and fight for it on the libertarian level where the fight belongs.

I've about had it with the medical pot BS. If you want to smoke pot grow up and have the balls to tell the world that you want to smoke pot recreationally and fight for that right... THAT I can support.


captnse 5 years, 7 months ago

The temperance people will go away just like they did the last time. Old Thinking and old people die. At least our children can make decisions about medical marijuana based on fact. God gave us this plant so why not use it to our benifit.


1999 5 years, 7 months ago

Mizz Watts and Mizz Victory seem to be both wholly ignorant of the voting process.

these are the two people representing the anti mmj crowd? Really?

good us all.


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