Summit County voter turnout heavier than usual for a midterm election
UNCONTESTED SUMMIT COUNTY RACES
Clerk and Recorder, Kathleen Neel
Treasurer, Bill Wallace
Assessor, Beverly Breakstone
Sheriff, John Minor
Surveyor, Gary Wilkinson
Coroner, Regan Wood
The first Summit County voter arrived at the old county courthouse in Breckenridge at 6:15 a.m. She was told to return 45 minutes later when the polls opened.
After that, poll workers at the county’s three in-person polling locations said voters arrived in steady streams throughout the day.
“It’s been really, really busy,” said Phyllis Martinez, an election judge helping voters in Breckenridge. She brought a book to read in case the morning was slow but hadn’t opened it by 10 a.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 4, marked the last day of the first general election in which ballots were mailed out to all voters registered in the county.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Martinez said, and she and other poll workers were surprised by the high turnout.
At the Breckenridge location, 388 people voted in person, while 241 voted in Frisco and 432 voted in Silverthorne.
Those tallies don’t include the 10,369 ballots mailed back or dropped off on or before Election Day.
For a non-presidential election, County Clerk and Recorder Kathleen Neel said, “10,000 is a pretty good turnout.”
FOR AND AGAINST
Standing outside, as the high temperature approached 50 degrees and not a single cloud could be found in the blue sky, Dr. Brandon Goble, 33, chatted with Joshua Laverdiere, 39, who sells hot tubs.
Laverdiere said GMO labeling was important to him. “You are what you eat.”
“Being in the health care field, I agree 100 percent,” Goble said.
Summit County as a whole didn’t support GMO labeling, with 54 percent of ballots voting against.
Dave Rothgery, 28, a Blue River father of three, said he supported Amendment 68 for the education funding.
“The schools need every dollar they can get,” said Rothgery, who also supported incumbent County Commissioner Dan Gibbs. “I think he does a great job really representing everyone.”
Mother Jill Ratliff, 36, of Breckenridge, said she voted in support of the county ballot measure 1A, a property tax increase to fund emergency services and water quality protection, which passed with 64 percent of the vote.
“If people are having problems getting responses due to the lack of technology, we have to keep up with everyone else,” she said.
That was the only tax increase Mark Vonderheid said he would support.
The 62-year-old Breckenridge resident and business owner voted with his wife Barbara, 59, an attorney, and the couple brought their 3-year-old grandson Carter with them.
The Vonderheids said they are conservative fiscally but not socially and voted Republican.
The couple voted against GMO labeling because the “very muddy law” would hurt agriculture and drive prices up, they said. Barbara added that the people who want non-GMO foods will find them.
Chris Mendrick, 55, a Breckenridge manager of a car wash, also voted Republican but didn’t support measure 1A.
“I don’t think there’s any need to raise taxes. It’s expensive enough to live here,” he said.
He was one of the 21 percent of voters who supported Amendment 67, and he voted against Amendment 68.
“I thought that was a good way for money to go to schools rather than raising taxes on us private citizens,” he said, but he didn’t like the possibility of an Aurora casino hurting mountain casinos in Black Hawk and Central City, where gambling seems more appropriate.
In Frisco, Cynthia Ramirez, 21, of Silverthorne, voted with her 1-year-old daughter, brother and mother in tow.
“I really wanted to mostly just get the Latino vote in because a lot of people can’t, so I wanted to make sure I did,” said Ramirez, a first-generation voter.
Peter Griffith, 49, of Frisco, walked out of the poll center with his wife, Karen.
“Gardner just really scares the crap out of me,” said Karen, 49, a co-owner of the Alpinista Family Bistro in Copper Mountain.
Peter said women’s rights issues were important to him this election while he thought Amendment 68 wasn’t “specific enough for the kids.”
WORKING AN ELECTION
Back in Breckenridge Tuesday afternoon, election judge Gin Simmons handed out “I voted” stickers, collected ballots, answered questions, directed people and gave them compliments.
“I’ve got a ballot and a pen for you,” said Stephen Schambach, 22, a self-employed window cleaner.
“You’ve got a ballot and a pen, and I’ve got a sticker. You’re fabulous,” Simmons said.
She has worked elections for years, and she drove to collect the ballot of a voter who couldn’t get to the poll center.
“I, in a fit of weakness, said I would go and pick up her ballot,” she said. “I just felt duty bound.”
Those working the election Tuesday were stressed by computer glitches; the state system was inaccessible several times throughout the day.
The down system was forcing poll workers to give voters mail ballots and provisional ballots.
“What a day. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Neel said.
People asked her questions about the seven pizza boxes she ordered for the group of staff members and volunteers working, and she didn’t want to make any more decisions.
“This whole ordeal is over for you,” she said, as she took a ballot from a voter and dropped it into a ballot box.
After the first round of votes were counted, Neel became more light-hearted, laughing that she bested Sheriff John Minor by about 100 votes and earned the most votes of the uncontested races.
Minor called within minutes and congratulated her on her victory.
“I whooped you good,” Neel said.
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