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Swamped in Steamboat

Hourlong waits, long lines reported at vote centers

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— Routt County voters faced long lines and computer malfunctions Tuesday in an arduous election day.

When polls closed at 7 p.m. at the Steamboat Pilot and Today, one of eight voting centers in the county, there were still more than 150 people waiting to vote on one of the four electronic voting machines at the site. Dozens and dozens of voters gave up and left without casting ballots. Some voters waited nearly four hours to vote.

Similar scenes played out at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, Yampa Valley Medical Center and the courthouse. Voting went smoother in Hayden, but after 5 p.m., waits of more than an hour were reprted.

Everyone in line by 7 p.m. was told they would be allowed to vote.

Some approached the wait with optimism and humor.

“Everybody is on a tight schedule, but it’s worth the wait to vote,” said Steamboat resident Dave Winters, 52.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” shrugged Steamboat resident Zach Handyside, 28.

A woman who declined to give her name said she was thankful of the opportunity to cast her ballot, regardless of the wait.

“We’re lucky to live in this country and be able to vote,” the woman said.

As more than 40 people waited for a turn at one four electronic voting machines at the Pilot & Today, just after 10 a.m. Tuesday, election volunteer Jo Stanko showed a picture of a voting machine to people in line and explained how to use the machines.

“The first thing you have to know, is that it won’t blow up,” Stanko joked.

One voter expressed dissatisfaction of the electronic machines that have replaced paper ballots in Routt County.

“The electronic voting machines are a bad idea, period,” said 30-year-old Brandon Wejroch of Steamboat.

Meanwhile, Suzanne Schlicht, regional manager for WorldWest LLC, the parent company of the Pilot & Today, walked up and down the line offering coffee and handing out chairs to waiting voters.

“Do you need anything else?” Schlicht asked Handyside.

“Just a pillow and a blanket,” Handyside quipped.

Weinland said a morning rush resulted in long lines.

“I think the lines will lessen as the day progresses, because we had that big influx of voters right at the beginning,” Weinland said.

For voters with time on their hands, a drive to Hayden or South Routt could be a better option than a long wait in Steamboat.

“I do know that Hayden is doing well, and Yampa has no line,” Weinland said.