Never a dull moment here | VailDaily.com

Never a dull moment here

Teak Simonton

It’s certainly been a busy election year! Work began in earnest last March as the candidates began filing the necessary paperwork to declare their intent. At that time we were already busy reconciling addresses and registering a record number of new voters. The primary election was successfully held on Aug. 10, and then the larger task of readying for the general election began. Ballot contents were determined and ballot styles for each district finalized. Polling places were selected, and their use negotiated with towns, schools and other entities. Judges’ training began in July, with eight sessions held in four locations across the county. On Election Day 18,644 voters visited 14 polling locations in the county, and 15 days later the official results were certified by the Canvass Board. Wow! It was exciting and impressive to witness the organization and hard work of so many people devoted to making sure Eagle County’s election was as efficient and problem free as possible.A review of this year’s election data disclosed some interesting facts. The turnout this year broke all previous records with 89.6 percent of active voters casting votes; 79 percent in 2000 was the previous record. Absentee and early ballots cast represented 42 percent of the total, another record (32 percent in 2000). There was very little change in party turnout. Democrats represented 27 percent in 2004, the same as in 2000. Republicans were 36 percent in 2004, compared to 37 percent in 2000. And unaffiliated voters were 37 percent in 2004, compared to 36 percent in 2000. There has been some speculation that there was a very large turnout by younger voters. We found this not to be the case. To the contrary, it appears that the highest age bracket turned out in 2004. The under 35 crowd represented 30 percent (32 percent in 2000). The 3650 group represented 39 percent (42 percent in 2000). Those over 50 were 31 percent of the total (26 percent in 2000). Work in elections is never really finished. We just completed scanning the signature cards to give credit to those who voted, and we are about to begin the lengthy task of scanning signatures of these same people into our voter registration software. In January, we will be mailing approximately 8,000 continuation cards to those who are registered to vote but who did not vote this time around. We plan to use the second quarter of the year to continue the correlation of street addresses to special district boundaries to better assure that voters are able to vote on issues that might impact the districts where they live. Then the cycle will begin again in May when we begin planning for the November 2005 election!The next Eagle County election will be Nov. 8, 2005. Although we won’t know which districts will have candidates or issues on the ballot until late July, it is likely that there will be openings for school board member seats, town council seats and state initiatives and referendums. The districts that plan to participate will influence whether it will be a mail ballot or polling place election.If you move, please let us know! This recent election, many voters learned how difficult and time-consuming it is to wait until the last minute to change their addresses so that they could vote. For those registered voters who failed to vote in this past election, we will be sending continuation cards early next year. If you receive one of these cards PLEASE let us know if you still want to be registered to vote and whether the information on the card is correct. Registration, change of address and change of affiliation forms are available on line at http://www.eaglecounty.us or by calling 328-8715 on the Eagle Valley side of the county, or 748-2700 on the Roaring Fork side. I want to extend a very special thank you to over 100 election judges for their invaluable help with both of the 2004 elections. The success of the Election depends on the professionalism of these devoted citizens and would not be possible without them. They work very hard over many long hours to insure that our citizens have a positive voting experience. Finally, we are grateful to all the entities that provided facilities for use aspolling locations: the Town of Red Cliff, the Town of Vail, the Town of Minturn, Homestead Court Club, Eagle County government, the Town of Gypsum, the Town of Basalt, the McCoy Community Center, the Burns Baptist Church, the Town of Avon, the Eagle Vail Pavilion, the Singletree Community Center and Edwards Elementary School. Their generosity and flexibility provided convenient and comfortable locations for the voting public to exercise their right to vote. Thank you!And finally, a big personal thank you from me to my wonderful and very devoted staff, who worked so many long hours during the election. Special recognition goes to Linda Nestor, our motor vehicle supervisor in Eagle, who has been with Eagle County for 25 years! Her contribution to our effort to provide exemplary customer service is never ceasing. Linda knows more about motor vehicle titling and registration than most experts at the state level, and her expertise and attention to detail is very much appreciated. She is a great member of the Eagle County team. I welcome your comments and suggestions. You can reach me at 328-8728 or via email at teak.simonton@eaglecounty.us if you have comments or questions.Teak Simonton is the Eagle County clerk and recorder.Vail, Colorado