Voter turnout may have set Routt County record
November 1, 2011
Steamboat Springs — With an active voter turnout of about 67 percent, Tuesday's election could prove to be a county record, Routt County Clerk and Recorder Kay Weinland said.
"For an odd-year election, I bet it is," she said late Tuesday night.
Weinland said she would have to review historical data before confirming the turnout was a record. There were 7,826 ballots counted for Tuesday night's unofficial results. About 30 ballots were not counted Tuesday night, including about 12 provisional ballots. There are 11,630 active voters in Routt County and another 6,000 or so inactive voters. Active voters are those who cast ballots in the 2010 general election. Inactive voters still are registered but were not sent a mail ballot automatically this fall. They had to either change their registration status or stop by the Clerk and Recorder's Office to pick up a ballot.
The vote tallies will become official next week once a canvas is completed, but Weinland said the election results would not change.
"Everything we've got has a good spread," she said.
The closest race was between Steamboat Springs School Board District 5 candidates Rebecca Williams and Sandra Sharp. Williams secured 2,214 votes to Sharp's 2,026.
Weinland said the potential record turnout was because of "ballot content," which included measures to ban marijuana dispensaries in three Routt County cities as well as unincorporated areas of the county and a 0.25 percent sales tax increase in Steamboat Springs to support the airline program. The airline program tax passed, and three of the four medical marijuana business bans failed. Yampa was the only community to support a ban.
More than 7,700 voters in Routt County cast a ballot on Referendum 1A, one of the medical marijuana business ban initiatives. In Steamboat Springs, 4,214 voters cast a ballot on Referendum 2B, the winter air program tax question. About 600 fewer city voters chose to cast votes in the three contested City Council elections, a fact that disappointed District 1 candidate Richard Levy.
"I was really disappointed that of all the people who voted, a lot of them didn't vote for City Council races," said Levy, who lost to incumbent Scott Myller. "We had a great turnout, but we didn't have a great turnout for City Council races."
Weinland said she was pleased with the overall turnout.
"I can remember in odd-year elections when we had low 20s and teens for a percentage turnout," she said.
Odd- or off-year elections typically do not include the election of candidates for state and federal offices. Odd-year elections usually consist of citizen-led initiatives and municipal elections.