Jump in new voter registration | VailDaily.com

Jump in new voter registration

EAGLE COUNTY ” Thirty-five days before Election Day, the Eagle County Clerk’s office is inundated with voter registration and mail-in ballot requests.

The county election office has started receiving between 200 and 300 applications from voters and about 150 mail-in ballot requests a day, according to Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton.

“We’re already burning the midnight oil,” Simonton said.

Election officials have set up temporary work stations and enlisted extra help to process the flood of requests.

“We actually have five people working data entry, including me, all day every day from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. at night,” she said.

But they’re still behind.

On Wednesday, the office was still processing voter information from Friday, Sept. 26, according to Simonton.

The county had 20,791 active voters in 2004. This year, 21,775 voters already are registered as active, and 1,000 more people could register before the deadline, according to Simonton.

Voters have until Monday, Oct. 6, to register to vote.

“There is a lot of registration activity, no doubt about it,” Simonton said. “We will have the largest active voter roll we’ve ever had.”

Simonton expects 100 percent of the county’s active voters to vote this year. Voters who are registered but fail to vote in a federal election are categorized as inactive, but are still eligible to vote. The county has about 7,000 inactive voters, according to Simonton.

Voters also can take advantage of early voting Oct. 20-31. Polls will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday at 500 Broadway St. in Eagle and 100 W. Beaver Creek Blvd. in Avon. Mail-in ballots can be requested from the clerk’s office until Tuesday, Oct. 28. Friday, Oct. 31, is the last day to pick up a mail-in ballot in person.

Both presidential campaigns for Republican candidate Sen. John McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama have stressed the importance of registering voters.

“This is a historic election unlike any in a generation and Colorado is one of the most important states in the country,” said Obama Colorado Press Secretary Matt Chandler. “We need to get people involved.”

Chandler said volunteers have been knocking on doors and making phone calls in an attempt to register voters, but also stressed the issues facing the country as a factor that’s grabbing the attention of voters ” many for the first time.

“People are concerned and getting active and engaged, it’s about talking to them about the issues that matter to them,” Chandler said. “We’ve seen incredible enthusiasm in Colorado.”

McCain’s campaign has been aggressively reaching out to unregistered voters, according to campaign spokesman Tom Kise.

“In Colorado and around the country, registering voters is very important,” he said. “We’re excited that Republicans continue to hold the lead in registered voters (in the state), and we’ll continue to aggressively look for new Republican voters.”

In addition to interest in this year’s presidential election, the state ballot is as packed as it’s been since 1912. Voters will be asked to consider 18 separate ballot questions. Election Day could be a busy one, Simonton said.

“If (people) choose to vote at the polls they should plan on additional time,” Simonton said. “It’s a huge ballot, it’s inevitable that there will be waits.”

For more information, contact the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Office at 328-8728.

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at (970) 748-2931 or coutcalt@vaildaily.com.

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