Low turnout so far in Pitkin, Eagle elections
October 30, 2009
Eagle County voters have been uninspired by the Nov. 3 election while Pitkin County voters showed slightly more interest.
Both counties are reporting poor turnout in the mail-in ballot election, thus far. Voters still have time to have their voices heard. The clerk’s offices will accept ballots until 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill said Friday that 2,328 ballots had been received by her office as of Thursday. There were 11,648 ballots sent out, so the return rate was about 20 percent.
Eagle County Clerk Teak Simonton reported “extremely low turnout” as of Friday morning. Slightly more than 10 percent of the 26,000 ballots that were mailed out had been received, she said.
Simonton said she couldn’t foresee more than another 10 percent coming in by the end of election day. She projected turnout between 15 and 25 percent.
“There’s just not much on the ballot,” Simonton said.
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The biggest question on the ballot in Eagle County is the creation of an energy improvement district, question 1A. Eagle County is seeking permission to issue up to $10 million in bonds to create a pool of money that homeowners and business owners can tap into for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The program is voluntary and wouldn’t affect taxpayers. The recipients of low-interest loans for energy-related project would repay the loans through a special assessment on their property tax.
Simonton said it appeared that voters in Eagle County were either confused or apathetic about the energy improvement district.
In Pitkin County, the best that could be said about the turnout through Thursday is that it is better than in 2007, the last time a mail-in ballot election was held. There was only an 8 percent return rate then, Vos Caudill said. She said it is difficult to forecast where the Pitkin County turnout will land in this election.
Auden Schendler has helped coordinate the campaign in favor of the energy improvement district in Pitkin County. Proponents are battling apathy among voters.
“My take is that people are interested and enthusiastic when they understand it,” he said. “The problem is that very few people are bothering to vote or to understand it.
“But I had a few conversations, each of which ended with a comment on the order of ‘very cool.’ Which it is,” Schendler said.
In Pitkin County, voters can drop off their ballots at the clerk’s office in the courthouse on Monday and on Tuesday until 7 p.m. In the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County, ballots can be dropped off at the clerk’s annex in the county building at El Jebel on Monday and up to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.