Voter turnout low; only 14 percent of ballots returned so far in Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Voter turnout low; only 14 percent of ballots returned so far in Routt County

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Just a little more than 14 percent of the 17,644 election ballots mailed to voters last month for the Nov. 7 election have been accepted at the Routt County Courthouse thus far. And County Clerk Kim Bonner is issuing a plea to voters to take care of that chore in the next couple of days.

"I'd like to encourage everyone to get their ballots in by Friday, so we can take advantage of the weekend to keep up with the processing," Bonner said Nov. 1. "It requires quite a few election judges and many, many hours."

As of 3:30 p.m. Nov. 1, the clerk's office had accepted 2,551 ballots in an off-year election that includes school bond and tax questions in both the Steamboat and Hayden school districts.

And for the first time, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority is asking the taxpayers to approve a 10-year mill levy to raise the funds needed to continue its success this year in completing affordable apartments for households with modest incomes.

The tepid response to an election where few local races are contested and there are no statewide offices on the ballot is familiar to the county clerk.

The Thursday before the November 2015 election, Bonner reported her office had received 3,600 completed ballots, representing about 23 percent of the 15,651 ballots mailed out.

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On Wednesday, she clarified that the number of registered voters in Routt County hasn't actually grown  from the 15,651 mailed out two years ago to 17,644 this year. Instead, a change in state election law directed local county clerks to keep apparently inactive voters on the rolls longer than they have in the past.

Now, she said, her office, like those of every county clerk in the state, maintains voters on the rolls until their mail ballots are returned because they are undeliverable.

And Bonner is optimistic voters will turn in as many ballots in 2017 as is typical for an off-year cycle.

"I think we'll probably end up where we were two years ago, but even with that (voter turnout) we will be at about 50 percent," she said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

Where to cast your ballot if you haven’t mailed it

Voters also drop off, replace or vote their ballots at the Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave. in Steamboat Springs, during office hours — 8 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. through Nov. 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 7.

Routt County also has numerous ballot drop-off locations including a 24-hour secure ballot box in the alley behind the courthouse. Ballots may also be dropped off at the following locations during normal office hours: Clark Store, 54175 Routt County Road 129; Hayden Town Hall, 178 W. Jefferson Ave.; Oak Creek Town Hall, 129 Nancy Crawford Blvd; and Yampa Town Hall, 56 Lincoln.

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