Monday is last day to register to vote Nov. 2
October 1, 2010
ASPEN – With the Nov. 2 general election one month away, unaffiliated voters make up the largest portion of Pitkin County’s electorate.
The deadline to register to vote in the November election is Monday, while early voting runs Oct. 18-29. Additionally, mail-in ballots will be sent out Oct. 12.
Through Friday, of the 13,766 voters in the county, 6,022, or almost 44 percent, were unaffiliated. Next were the Democrats, with 4,796 registered voters, or about 35 percent. The Republicans had 2,698 registered voters, or almost 20 percent of the electorate, according to county voter registration records.
About 3,600, or 26 percent, of voters are “inactive,” which generally means they failed to vote in a past general election and haven’t voted since or have had ballots mailed to them that were returned to the county clerk as undeliverable, said Dwight Shellman III, Pitkin County’s election manager.
These statistics reflect a trend of at least the last 12 years, according to Pitkin County voter registration records.
In 1998, unaffiliated voters represented 5,785 of the 12,217 registered voters in the county, while Democrats came in second at 3,403 and Republicans took the third spot with 2,978. Other voters were affiliated with smaller parties.
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In 2006, 5,500 of the 12,657 registered voters in Pitkin County were unaffiliated.
But according to the registration records, party-registered voters generally are more active than unaffiliated voters.
This year’s Aug. 10 primary election yielded a much higher percentage of the electorate than primaries in the recent past, with the third-highest number of people ever voting in the county’s history.
In the primary, 3,107 voters – or about 23 percent of the electorate – cast their ballots, according to the county clerk’s office.
County Democrats are taking proactive measures to register Pitkin County voters, hosting a rally Sunday at Paepcke Park headlined U.S. Rep John Salazar of Colorado and state Sen. Gail Schwartz, District 5.
Local Democrat Jack Johnson, who is running against Republican Rob Ittner for the non-partisan county commissioner seat being vacated by Patti Kay-Clapper, and County Commissioner Rachel Richards will also appear at the event.
Frieda Wallison, chairwoman of the Pitkin County Republican Party, said party members have been actively calling a list of “about 200” potential registrants throughout the campaign, but that the party did not host any voter registration drives recently.
She said the local Republicans typically call residents who have expressed interest in the party in the past.
Blanca O’Leary, an organizer for Sunday’s Democratic rally, said she has been canvassing the community in a grassroots effort to register more voters. She estimated that during the door-to-door campaign that also stopped at Aspen High School, roughly 200 residents have registered.
“This is an important election,” O’Leary said.
People who still want to register can visit http://www.pitkinvotes.org.