Early voters pack the polls | SummitDaily.com
NICOLE FORMOSA

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Early voters pack the polls

Summit Daily/Reid WilliamsBlue River resident Faren Harris turns in her early voting ballot to election judge Viola Shaw Wednesday at the old county courthouse. Early voting continues through 5 p.m. Friday.

BRECKENRIDGE – Early voter turnout in Summit County is expected to nearly double from the 2000 election as thousands of residents flock to the courthouse to mark their ballots before Nov. 2. “We had 300 early voters (Tuesday) and it looks like (Wednesday) we’ll top that,” said Vicky Stecklein Price, Summit County elections administrator.In 2000, the county saw approximately 1,500 early voters, according to Stecklein Price. This year, 2,347 people had filed ballots early as of noon Wednesday, with two days remaining for people to cast their votes.Stecklein Price attributed convenience to this year’s popularity of early voting.”If they have time today … or tomorrow, then they don’t have to be obligated to go to the polls on Nov. 2,” Stecklein Price said.

She also said Summit County’s fickle weather prompts some people to turn in their ballots early.”If the weather’s nice and people are out and about, they’ll stop in. If there’s any chance it will snow on election day, which it always does, they’ll come in and vote (early).”Local voters queued up on Wednesday had a variety of reasons for not waiting another few days.”I’m ready to vote. I’m ready to get it out of the way. I made my decision a long, long time ago, ” said Breckenridge resident Uyen Tran.”This way I can tune out all the ads when they come on. It’s nice to be done with it,” added fellow voter Jeff Nielsen.”I’m working on (Nov. 2) and with all the problems of the last election, I think it’s good to not have such a rush all at one time,” said Melissa McCraniels, who lives in Silverthorne.

McCraniels lived in Florida during the last presidential election and said she doesn’t want to see the controversy from 2000 repeated.”Since the last election, I think we realized how important it is to vote. There’s been a lot more education about it,” McCraniels said.Terry Frances lives in Breckenridge now, but he lived in Alabama during the last election and feels the same as McCraniels.”This might help me ensure my vote is truly counted after what happened in Florida,” Frances said.Early voting is picking up popularity across the country, with 32 states now offering some alternative to voting on Election Day. As of last weekend, the Associated Press showed 11 percent of Americans had already voted, with another 11 percent planning on going to the polls before Tuesday.Here in Colorado, the AP reported that Colorado expected 60 percent of its 3.1 million voters to cast ballots early. As of Wednesday morning, the secretary of state’s office had counted 200,456 early ballots. The total number in 2000 was 471,947.

The number of absentee ballots requested by Summit County residents has also slightly increased. In 2000, about 2,500 were distributed and as of Wednesday, the elections office had already surpassed that number, having mailed or given out more than 2,700 absentee ballots. Statewide, 261,922 absentee ballots have gone out, while 303,421 were handed out in 2000. The deadline for early voting and requesting an absentee ballot is Friday at 5 p.m. Any registered voter can participate, but voters must have the proper identification, which is preferably a Colorado driver’s license or state identification card, Stecklein Price said.Casting your ballot early just might save you some time in the long run.”The line will be four or five times longer on election day,” she cautioned.Nicole Formosa can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or at nformosa@summitdaily.com.