Voters swamp counties
Voter turnout in next month’s presidential election may set records – locally and nationally – if voter registration is any indication of interest in the race between Sen. John Kerry and President George W. Bush.Across the country and in the Roaring Fork Valley, county clerk’s offices were hopping Monday – the last day voters could register in Colorado and about half the states in the country.Rock the Vote and other drives to promote voter registration have apparently had the desired effect. Both Republicans and Democrats have pushed hard to swell their ranks.”The registrations are way, way up – for Democrats and Republicans, but in great numbers of Democrats,” said Camilla Auger, local Democratic Party chairwoman. “And we’re seeing a real surge of interest among younger voters – that’s across the country, not just here.”I would be very surprised if we don’t have a record turnout,” she added. “Everyone who’s alive and breathing is interested in this election.”The latest tally of registered voters in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties won’t be available for a while, as beleaguered clerks had stacks of registration forms still to be entered onto their computerized lists Tuesday.”Yesterday [Monday], we got slammed,” confirmed Helen Lindow, election coordinator in Eagle County. “Bombarded” was how the elections deputy in Pitkin County put it.”We had people register who haven’t voted in 30 years,” said Mildred Alsdorf, clerk and recorder in Garfield County.By Tuesday morning, Pitkin County had 12,832 registered voters, with an undetermined sum of additional registration forms that have yet to be processed.That total is up from 12,536 registered voters in Pitkin County on Sept. 14 – date of the most recent tally by the Colorado secretary of state’s office, which is based on the reporting by individual counties.Shortly after the August primary, Pitkin County had 12,306 registered voters, according to the secretary of state. That means 526 previously unregistered voters can now cast a ballot on Nov. 2.In Eagle County, which encompasses a portion of the midvalley, 28,170 voters were registered by Tuesday morning, with hundreds yet to be entered into the system, Lindow said.That’s an increase of 1,223 voters since the Sept. 14 state report tallied 26,947 voters in Eagle County. September’s count in Eagle County was unchanged from August.In Garfield County, which includes a portion of the lower Roaring Fork Valley, there were 28,833 registered voters Tuesday, with more still to be counted. That’s up from 28,050 on Sept. 14 and 27,867 in August – or 966 new voters.The breakdown by party affiliation for the latest voter totals wasn’t available from county clerks on Tuesday.Between August and September, though, Pitkin County gained 195 Democrats and 90 Republicans, and lost 54 unaffiliated voters, according to the secretary of state’s tally.Garfield County gained 148 unaffiliated voters, 135 Democrats and 108 Republicans between Aug. 18 and Sept. 14.In November 2000, when the presidential race featured Bush/Cheney on the Republican ticket, Gore/Lieberman on the Democratic ticket and Nader/LaDuke for the Green Party, Pitkin County had 13,982 registered voters; Eagle County had 22,099 and Garfield County had 28,852. County clerks periodically purge voter registration lists of inactive voters – those who haven’t cast ballots in three general elections, which occur every other November, in even-numbered years.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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