Poor turnout for primaries nothing new | VailDaily.com

Poor turnout for primaries nothing new

Nicole Frey and Scott Miller
Kathy Lippert/Vail DailyElection official Randy Milhoan draws to pass the time while he awaits voters' arrival on Tuesday at Minturn Town Hall.

AVON ” Four volunteer election judges sat quietly in the Avon Town Hall. Before them, four electronic voting machines stood silently. No voters were there to use them.

At noon, just 24 people had been to the Avon polling place to vote in the Eagle County primary elections to choose county commission candidates from both parties and a Republic candidate for county assessor.

Acting as an election judge for the last 20 years, Chris Ekrem, said turnout for primary elections is typically poor. The group sat around reading magazines, knitting and occasionally chatting with one another.

“But it’s good practice, though,” said election judge Jerry McMahan, whose services will be needed again during the general elections Nov. 7.

Joanne Certak, an election judge, said last week’s early voting may have lessened today’s voter turnover.

Finally someone walked through the door.

“It’s just great to see you Drew,” Ekrem said.

As a former election judge, Drew Dodd should know the voting drill, but it’s changed slightly since the last time he voted. This year people in Eagle County are casting their votes on new electronic voting machines, not paper ballots.

“It was like voting with an iPod,” Dodd said. “The election judges will have a little more work, but really the directions are as easy as pie.”

Election judge Faye McKenny said the electronic voting machines would likely translate into fewer counting errors, but other voters weren’t as excited about the new technology.

“They’re a pain in the rear end,” Rich Carroll said. “I prefer the old ones.”

Susan Gruber said the machines were easy enough to use, but anticipated future problems.

“I anticipate a big line at the general (election) when people aren’t used to it,” Gruber said.

Gruber said she’d avoid polling places Nov. 7, but she’ll still vote by absentee ballot.

“I guess I just do it reflexively,” she said. “I think if people are willing to run for office, that’s a very big commitment, so it asks very little of the citizens to participate in the voting process, to actually go out and vote.”

At the Homestead Court Club, where all of 23 voters had come through by 3 p.m., the election judges were spending their day reading, talking and eating.

“We’ve been reading the Vail Daily,” judge Kathy Chandler-Henry said.

“We’ve been coming up with problems, and finding answers today,” election judge Dan McNutt said. “And we eat a lot. It’s like being a camping trip.”

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927 or nfrey@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado

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