Aspen voter turnout crushes previous recent record
Nearly 60 percent of Aspen’s active, registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s municipal election, according to the city’s deputy clerk.
That number, more than 3,200 votes, demolished the previous highest voter total recorded in the past five Aspen city elections by almost 700 votes, according to numbers provided by the City Clerk’s Office.
“That’s a significant amount,” said Linda Manning, who has been the city clerk for five years but did not run this election because she was a candidate for City Council.
By the time the polls closed Tuesday, 3,220 out of 5,398 active registered voters cast ballots in this year’s election, said Nicole Henning, Aspen’s deputy clerk. That didn’t include about 20 ballots where discrepancies were detected, she said.
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Previously, the largest number of voters recorded in the past five municipal elections was 2,544 in May 2009.
“It’s amazing,” said Skippy Mesirow, the lead organizer in the campaign last year to move the municipal election from May to March. “It’s better than our wildest dreams.”
Aspen voters in November overwhelmingly approved the measure moving the election by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin. Supporters claimed the May election took place during offseason when town occupancy is low, disenfranchising a segment of the population.
“(The high turnout) is because of Lift One,” Manning said. “It is not the change of election day.”
Up until two days ago, the turnout was running behind 2017 totals, the second-lowest in the past five elections, she said.
“If it wasn’t for Lift One, we would have seen roughly the same or less turnout (as June 2017),” Manning said.
Henning agreed with her boss.
“Personally, I think it was Lift One,” she said after all the votes were counted Tuesday. “That’s just listening to people coming in on a daily basis.
“I think it drove the entire election.”
Mesirow, who won a City Council seat Tuesday, wasn’t so sure.
“There’s just no question,” he said. “We’re talking about a 20 percent increase in voters. The change (of election date) has something to do with it.”
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Tuesday is election day in Basalt. A new mayor will be elected and three council seats filled. Town officials are urging residents not to wait until the last day to cast their ballots.