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Early voting portends good turnout

Jim Pokrandt

BRECKENRIDGE – Summit County polls close at 7 p.m. today, but before they even opened, about 1,236 people had already voted early or by absentee ballot.

That’s 6.2 percent of the 19,888 registered voters in the county – or 10.4 percent of the 11,900 active voters, according to an analysis done by the Summit County Democrats.

The number of pre-election voters could grow higher. The deadline to turn in absentee ballots is 7 p.m. at the Summit County Courthouse, when the polls close.

Generally, off-year elections such as today’s produce low voter turnout and if history is a judge, that could mean about a third of expected voters made their judgments ahead of time.

Or it could mean the school board election, smoking-ban question and mill levy for recycling, open space, health care and water storage are prompting high voter interests.

Locals also have shown high interest in debating the proposed state Amendment 33, which would allow video lottery terminals in Front Range racetracks, with a stipulation that up to $25 million of proceeds would be directed to funding of statewide tourism promotion.

County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom, the consummate student of politics, thinks the pre-electing voting number portends a “good turnout” for an off-year election.

“There’s a buzz on the streets,” Lindstrom said of the election issues.

Monday, the Board of County Commissioners mused about switching to mail-in ballots and eliminating the formalities of setting up polling places.

“I think we ought to do mail-in ballots for off-year elections,” Lindstrom said. He said balloting by mail appears to almost double turnout for the nonpresidential, noncongressional elections.

“It doesn’t make sense to put people through all of this aggravation,” Lindstrom said of trekking to polling places.

County Clerk and Recorder Cheri Brunvand, whose office oversees elections, said she’s also interested in mail-in ballots.

County Commissioner Bill Wallace cautioned that improperly filled out mail-in ballots could lead to trouble for voters, but he agreed to consider the technique.

Potential fraud is another concern.

“Give me a mail-in ballot and a cemetery and I’ll never lose another election, no matter term limits,” Commissioner Tom Long joked to make a point.

Brunvand said polling results today likely would be available starting after 8:30 p.m.

“We are going for accuracy.

This isn’t Florida,” Brunvand said. “We are going to get it done correctly. We are going to move in a very cautious, accurate manner, which we’ve always done.”

The counting of absentee ballots was to begin at 9 a.m.

The major questions on the ballot are:

n County Referred Measure 1A – the continuation of an existing property tax that would generate a set $1.6 million a year for 12 years to fund upgraded recycling equipment to save the landfill, open space purchases, a new Community Care Clinic and local water storage projects.

n County Referred Question 1B – directs the Board of County Commissioners to enact a smoking ban in public places, including restaurants and bars.

n Frisco Referred Measure 2A – should the only town without a lodging tax finally enact one at 2.35 percent, to collect about $250,000 a year for economic development and the funding of amenities and tourism promotion.

n Summit School District School Board elections to fill four of seven seats – the choice is among James Shaw, Jay Brunvand, Ruth Hertzberg, Jon Kreamelmeyer, Stuart Adams and Bob Bowers.

n State Referendum A – should the state go into debt for $2 billion, with a payback of $4 billion, to build water storage projects to be selected by the governor.

n State Amendment 32 – to reset residential property assessments at 8 percent of value (they are currently at 7.96 percent), and to relieve commercial property of having to pay 55 percent of state property taxes.

n State Amendment 33 – to allow video lottery terminals in Front Range racetracks with up to $25 million of proceeds going to state tourism promotion and other funds to schools and open space.

n Referendum 4C – to relieve the Colorado Water Conservation District of constitutional restrictions on revenue collections.

n Voters also are asked whether term limits should be removed for the Summit school board and Frisco Sanitation District. The Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District is asking if term limits can be raised to 15 consecutive years.

Jim Pokrandt can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 227, or jpokrandt@summitdaily.com.


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