Summit County clerk sees flood of early ballots ahead of Election Day | SummitDaily.com

Summit County clerk sees flood of early ballots ahead of Election Day

One of the five drop boxes set up to receive ballots in Summit County was placed at Frisco Town Hall. In addition to the five drop-off sites, the county will have three polling locations open for today’s election.

In states that allow it, large numbers of Americans have made a point to cast early ballots ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, and neither Colorado nor Summit County appears to be an exception.

Widely considered a referendum on President Donald Trump's policies of the last two years, the 2018 midterms have sparked intense interest across the political spectrum with individual races around the U.S. likely to decide which party controls the House of Representatives, and perhaps the Senate, for at least the next two years.

Also on the ballot, Coloradans will choose their next governor — Republican Walker Stapleton or Democrat Jared Polis — as voters resolve a handful of statewide races and a host of ballot measures, including proposed amendments, propositions and local funding questions.

In Summit County, many people will be closely watching the sheriff's race, a fierce contest between incumbent Democrat Jaime FitzSimons and his Republican challenger Derek Woodman.

As of 3 p.m. Monday, the clerk’s office had counted 8,816 early ballots from Summit County voters with another 191 people voting early in person at one of the county’s open polling centers, Neel said.

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Another big-ticket item for Summit County voters is the county's 1A ballot initiative, a proposal to raise property taxes by an estimated $88 million over the next 10 years to pay for county infrastructure projects, early childhood education, mental health, recycling and wildfire mitigation.

Not to be overlooked, Colorado Mountain College, the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District and Summit Fire & EMS all have similar ballot questions that are designed to help each organization maintain its current funding level.

With no shortage of issues, Summit County Clerk and Recorder Kathleen Neel has noticed an uptick in early voting, especially for a midterm election, and she expects early voting totals to easily surpass the number cast in 2014.

"We're rolling and going," Neel said, adding that all of Summit County's drop boxes were chock full when staff emptied them Monday morning. But she isn't sure the county will see a higher participation rate than it did with the 2016 presidential election.

As of 3 p.m. Monday, the clerk's office had counted 8,816 early ballots from Summit County voters with another 191 people voting early in person at one of the county's open polling centers, Neel said.

Neel's count was more than 1,800 votes above what the Colorado Secretary of State was reporting for Summit County early Monday morning, when Democrat-affiliated voters had a large lead in the local numbers (2,609 vs. 1,731 early ballots) over Summit County Republicans.

According to the secretary of state, the numbers across Colorado were much closer with Democrats holding the slightest lead, 519,833 to 515,131, with more than 1.5 million early votes cast in Colorado.

The high participation rates for early voting in the county and statewide follow a national trend, as over 35 million Americans had cast early ballots by Monday morning, easily surpassing early voting totals for the entire 2014 midterm elections, according to an analysis by NBC News.

The same analysis found that ballots have been pretty evenly split nationwide between Republicans (42 percent) and Democrats (41 percent). However, unlike Colorado, GOP-affiliated voters appear to have an edge in early voting in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee and Texas.

Colorado voters should have received their ballots in the mail. The deadline to return these ballots via the mail has already passed, but five 24-hour drop boxes have been set up in Frisco, Silverthorne, Dillon and Breckenridge. Find them at:

• Summit County North Branch Library, 651 Center Circle, Silverthorne

• Dillon Town Hall, 275 Lake Dillon Drive, Dillon

• Frisco Town Hall, 1 E. Main St., Frisco

• Summit County Commons, 37 Peak One Drive, Frisco

• Old Summit County Courthouse, 208 E. Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge

Also, three in-person voting centers will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today in Silverthorne, Frisco and Breckenridge. Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. to be counted. The polling centers are at:

• Silverthorne Pavilion, 400 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne

• Summit County Community and Senior Center, 83 Nancy's Place, Frisco

• Old Summit County Courthouse, 208 E. Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge

"We are highly encouraging people that if you have a mail ballot to vote that because it is a very long ballot," Neel offered as a good tip to help people avoid the lines.

Local and statewide election results will be posted on the Colorado Secretary of State's website. No totals will be reported, however, until after the polls have closed. Anyone who voted by mail or through one of the drop boxes can check the status of their ballot at GoVoteColorado.com.

For more info, call the county clerk's election hotline at 970-453-3475, 3479 or 3469. People can go to the Summit County Clerk's website, SummitCountyCo.gov/126/Elections, which contains more information about the 2018 General Election, including links to state resources, a map of Summit County's precincts, and information about military, overseas and mail-in voting.

"We just want to encourage people to vote and get out to vote," Neel said as she again encouraged people to use the mailed-out ballots and drop boxes to avoid standing in line today. "But if you want to vote in person, we have places you can vote, so just make sure you vote."

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