Routt County resident Chan Spear heads into the Routt County Courthouse annex Thursday to cast his vote in the 2012 election.

Photo by John F. Russell

Routt County resident Chan Spear heads into the Routt County Courthouse annex Thursday to cast his vote in the 2012 election.

Record number of Routt County voters favors mail-in ballots

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Election volunteer John Marshall takes Mike Symalla's mail-in ballot at the Routt County Courthouse on Thursday afternoon. With the election drawing closer, there was a constant stream of people headed to the courthouse to drop off ballots or to take part in early voting.

Election 2012

Click here for coverage of this year's races and issues.

— With a little more than four days remaining before Election Day, half of the active registered voters in Routt County had voted as of 3 p.m. Thursday, Routt County Clerk Kay Weinland reported.

“Early voting is 2,050 ballots cast as of 3:10 p.m.,” Weinland said. “We’ve accepted 5,173 returned mail ballots, and we are every second getting more mail-in ballots.”

The 7,223 completed ballots that have come into the courthouse represent 49.9 percent of the 14,487 active voters. (The total number of registered voters is 18,930 up from 17,850 in 2008.)

About 75 percent of active registered voters here voted early or by mail-in ballot in 2008, and Weinland thinks an overall turnout of 90 percent of active voters is doable this year.

The number of early voters, those who walk into the courthouse annex to cast a ballot, actually is trending down from the past presidential election in 2008, when 4,469 voters had chosen to vote that way by the end of the day Friday before the election compared with the 2,050 early voters as of late Thursday afternoon. People have until 6 p.m. Friday to vote early at the courthouse.

Signs indicated that many of those voters who seem to have abandoned early voting have shifted since 2008 to mailing in their ballots.

“We mailed out 8,675 ballots,” Weinland said. “We (already) have 60 percent of the ballots we mailed out. To me, that’s a good sign. The ballots went out in the mail Oct. 15, and we had ballots back in our office on the 16th of October.”

The number of mail-in ballots issued this time around is a little more than 2,000 more than in 2008. And the 7,223 completed ballots returned thus far, including early voters and mail-in voters, already are substantially more than the total of 4,080 early ballots cast in the 2004 presidential election.

Routt County has two hotly contested county commissioner races in Districts 1 and 2, which primarily represent the southern and western parts of the county. But Weinland said it’s the presidential race that motivates voters the most.

“We will receive a lot of ballots back that will only have the president voted on, and we have a lot of voters who only vote every four years,” she said.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. Find polling place information here.

Weinland’s staff already has begun to prepare for the vote count Tuesday night.

“We’ve been scanning mail-in ballots for a week now, and we’ll have the early votes loaded and ready to tally at 7 p.m.,” Weinland said.

As soon as the report on the early vote has run, the mail-in ballots, excluding any that are dropped off at the courthouse on Election Day, will be tallied and posted to the county website. That means that soon after the polls close, likely more than half of the votes cast in Routt County will have been made public, giving voters a picture of how the races are shaping up.

For the most up-to-date information on Election Day, visit SteamboatToday.com.

Election Guide 2012

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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