‘There are no small elections:’ Summit County prepares for school board election, state and local ballot questions
9,000 Summit County voters turned out for the last odd-year election in 2019
Historically, voter turnout for odd-year elections is unsurprisingly low in comparison to national elections. However, with more people voting by mail, voter numbers are up, and with a Summit School District Board of Education election drawing attention amid a second pandemic school year, this November might be different.
“Everyone should vote,” Summit County Clerk and Recorder Kathleen Neel said. “There are no small elections. They’re all important.”
Odd-year election turnout has been sporadic in recent years. Neel reported that 6,587 people voted in Summit County 2015. In 2017, voter turnout dipped to 4,837, which Neel said could have been due to there not being any state questions on the ballot.
In 2019, turnout shot up to nearly 9,000 with two state questions, a cigarette tax question, the Peak 7 paving question and a school board election on the ballot. Neel also attributed some of the increase in voter turnout to the convenience of mail-in ballots, which became available after a state law was passed in 2013.
“I think our numbers continue to increase for voter turnout since we’ve been doing mail ballots because it’s just easier for folks to vote,” Neel said.
While voter turnout increased in 2019, it pales in comparison to 2020’s voter turnout during the presidential election, when 18,682 of 21,871 active Summit County voters cast their ballots.
“It was a huge turnout,” Neel said about the 2020 election.
Currently, there are about 22,000 active voters registered in Summit County.
Neel said that while the county knows voter turnout will be less than that of 2020, every election is prepared the same.
“In case every registered voter votes, we are prepared to conduct the election and tabulate the votes in a timely manner, so we’re always ready for a big turnout,” Neel said. “You never really know what spurs voters to turn out for an election.”
Summit County voters are being asked three state questions and two Summit County questions, including a fire district and housing tax, on November’s ballot.
In addition, voters will decide who will sit on the school board for two- and four-year terms. Of the four open seats in the upcoming election, three are for four-year terms and one is for a two-year term. Nine candidates in total are running for the open positions.
Molly Speer, executive assistant to the school board and superintendent, said the number of candidates running for school board positions isn’t unusually high. In 2019, 10 candidates ran for open positions. However, in 2017, the school board election to fill three open positions was canceled because only three candidates completed the requirements to run for open seats, including current board President Kate Hudnut and board member Tracey Carisch. In 2015, there were five candidates.
Speer said she thinks there will be decent voter turnout for the school board election this year due to heightened local interest in education as of late.
“Education-related things have kind of been front and center with COVID and things like that this year,” Speer said. “I think that we’re going to have a pretty good turnout for people to vote for the candidates.”
Amid national concerns about election fraud, Neel said Summit County is undergoing a security audit. While the county submits a security plan to the state every year, the audit is an additional precaution to get fresh eyes into Summit County’s voting system.
“We’re still following the same procedures,” Neel said. “We are having a security audit done just to have someone look to make sure that we are doing everything possible to conduct the most secure election, but our processes remain the same.”
• Ballots mail: Oct. 12
• Early voting starts: Oct. 25
• Election Day: Nov. 2
Voter registration deadlines
• Last day to submit an application through a voter-registration drive: Oct. 11
• Last day to register to vote or update your voter registration online: Oct. 25
• Last day to submit an application by mail, at a voter registration agency or at a local driver’s license examination facility: Oct. 25
• Last day to register in person at a polling center in your county: Nov. 2
• Early voting: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday from Oct. 25 through Nov. 1 at the Summit County Library south branch, 103 S. Harris St., Breckenridge.
• Election Day: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Summit County Library south branch in Breckenridge; the Silverthorne Pavilion, 400 Blue River Parkway; or the Summit County Community and Senior Center, 0083 Nancy’s Place, Frisco.
Ballot drop locations
Signed mail ballots can be dropped off at polling centers or at drop boxes at the following locations:
• Dillon Town Hall, 275 Lake Dillon Drive, Dillon
• Frisco Town Hall, 1 Main St., Frisco
• Summit County Library north branch, 651 Center Circle, Silverthorne
• Summit County Library main location, 0037 Peak One Drive, Frisco
• Summit County Courthouse, 208 E. Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge
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