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Steamboat Springs Mail-only elections are changing how many candidates and issue representatives campaign in fall.
For some, their efforts to reach out to voters are mostly over, even with the official Election Day still looming Tuesday. Others, however, continue to plug away on the campaign trail. They say it doesn’t much matter that the Routt Count Clerk and Recorder’s Office mailed ballots in mid-October, or that 40 percent of active local voters had turned in their ballots as of last week.
Sonja Macys, who is challenging Dave Moloney for the District 3 Steamboat Springs City Council seat, said she plans to campaign until the deadline to turn in ballots at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“I’m trying to reach out to everybody who has not voted,” she said. “Using voter lists, I’m knocking on doors or calling people who haven’t turned in
their ballots. I’m in it to win it.”
Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said state law still requires the county to operate polling places during general elections that take place during even years, such as next year’s presidential election.
Weinland said voters who have requested permanent mail ballots would continue to receive them for those even-year elections. She said mail-only would continue during coordinated county elections and odd-year elections such as this one.
“As long as I am the county clerk,” Weinland said, “and as long as I have the support of the county commissioners, we will continue to have those elections by mail because it is cost effective, efficient and voters embrace the mail-in concept.”
Routt County Democratic Party Chairwoman Catherine Carson said mail-only elections lengthen the campaign season. But she said that shouldn’t diminish the importance of the final push for candidates and issue proponents to continue reaching voters.
“I think it’s still very important for candidates and folks on either side of the issues to get their messages out there because there’s a lot of votes that will be coming in before next Tuesday,” Carson said.
Routt County Republican Central Committee Chairman Chuck McConnell said from the voters he has spoken with, most already have cast their ballots. McConnell said he thought a majority of voters would return their ballots within a week of receiving them, actually shortening the campaign season.
McConnell said he thought that trend would continue in future mail-only elections.
“It seems to me the intensity of the campaigning, which used to last until the final day, has diminished in that period,” he said.
City Council incumbent Scott Myller, who is being challenged for his District 1 seat by Richard Levy, said this year feels different than it did four years ago when he was elected to his first term. He said the 2007 election seemed to build up until Election Day.
“I felt like there was a big flurry of activity to the end last time, people standing in front of (U.S.) Highway 40 with signs on Election Day,” he said. “I’m not doing that this time.”
Myller said he would continue to run advertisements in the Pilot & Today and meet with people during public gatherings, but his campaign efforts definitely are slowing down.
Levy said he is keeping an eye on the vote count and would reduce his advertising if voter turnout increases significantly. He won’t reduce other campaign efforts.
“I’ll keep knocking on doors,” Levy said.
Moloney, who is running against Macys for the District 3 seat, said he, too, would continue running ads and meeting with people to help them understand where he stands on the issues. But Moloney said he suspected most people already had voted or made up their minds about how to cast their ballots.
“I doubt there will be many people swayed one way or the other in the last couple of days,” he said. “It looks to me that about half the people who will vote have already done so.”
Daryl Levin, who is running against John Fielding and Kevin Kaminski for the at-large council seat, said his campaign efforts are essentially finished.
“I’ve just been talking to people when I go places,” he said. “If they ask more about details, I tell them to look me up on Facebook. Basically, that’s about it. I think people have made their minds up. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Unlike most, Bill Stuart, who is leading the campaign effort for Steamboat Citizens to Regain Seats & Secure Our Economy, said the group promoting the 0.25 percent sales tax to supplement the winter air service program would continue reaching out to voters until Election Day. He said proponents would continue meeting with friends, co-workers and neighbors in addition to waving to cars that pass Third Street at Lincoln Avenue.
Macys said in addition to her efforts to garner support for herself, she’s also educating people about this year’s election. Macys said she continues to meet people who didn’t receive a mail ballot because they didn’t vote in 2010 or have moved since then and didn’t update their voter registration.
“Doing that one-on-one outreach gets the word out, not only about my campaign, but about this election,” she said.
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com