Voter registration in Pitkin County: ‘It’s a zoo’ | AspenTimes.com

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Voter registration in Pitkin County: ‘It’s a zoo’

ASPEN ” The number of registered voters in Pitkin County, always a moving target, is likely to grow considerably this year, according to county clerk and recorder Janice Vos Caudill.

Reading off the county’s computerized voter rolls on Monday, the deadline to register for the Nov. 4 general election, Caudill said the total number of registered voters as of that day was 13,160, compared to 13,279 on election day in 2004.

But Caudill added that by mid-day Monday, she had already logged in an uncounted number of last-minute registrations.

“It’s a zoo,” she said, noting that the organizers of local voter registration drives had delivered “stacks” of registration forms, and on top of that her office saw a rush of voters coming in the door to register in person.

“I was filling in at the counter, and at one point it was wild, there were six people deep at the counter,” she said, adding that the numbers from this rush of voters would not be known for days.

The voter rolls already reflected, as of Oct. 3, 1,708 new voters who had registered since Jan. 1, Caudill said. Of that number 668 were Democrats, 202 were Republicans, and 810 listed themselves as unaffiliated, the official term for independents. There also were 26 voters who counted themselves as with the Constitution, Libertarian, Green or Unity parties.

Of the total registered voters in the county as of Oct. 3, 4,611 were Democrats, 2,655 were Republicans, and 5,789 were listed as unaffiliated, with 105 in the minor parties.

As of Oct. 3, Caudill said her office had responded to 2,476 requests for absentee ballots, a number that had grown to 2,682 as of midday Monday. In 2004, she said, her office responded to a total of 2,009 absentee-ballot requests, an indication that interest in this election, between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, is far higher than in the 2004 contest between Democrat John Kerry and Republican George Bush.

Caudill also reported that 3,298 voters cast their ballots early in 2004, out of a total of 9,282 ballots cast in that election.

Voters can request absentee or mail-in ballots until Oct. 28 through the mail, or can come in and pick one up until Oct. 31. The ballots must be returned to the clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on election day in order to be counted.

Voters also can case early ballots using a voting booth at the county offices starting on Oct. 20.

“I’m expecting at least 50 percent to cast absentee or early votes,” Caudill said, predicting that the turnout will be slightly higher this year, at around 10,000 votes.

jcolson@aspentimes.com