Looking back at the ballots

County clerk's office hustling as employees prepare for election

Lila Herod the chief deputy of Moffat County Elections knows just about all there is on the subject of voting locally. It results in a moniker that co-workers reserve for her: the Election Information Goddess.

"It's an exciting time of year," Herod said checking the identification of early walk-in voters and recognizing familiar faces.

"We love it," she said. "We get to see some people we haven't seen since they last voted."

Early voting options may be a popular option among residents judging from the county's bustling election center Thursday morning. By that time 721 Moffat County voters had cast ballots.

The flexibility allowed residents to start voting Oct. 21.

"You don't have to have a reason to vote early," said County Clerk Elaine Sullivan. "Some people are in here getting their license plates and doing business and decide to vote while they're here. Some take their ballots home -- I call them the 'ponderers.'"

But over the years Moffat County voters tend to ponder either more or less over the issues -- depending on what's on the ballot.

A 1995 election proved the least interesting for voters according to county records that reflected a paltry 11 percent voter turnout.

During a coordinated election that year voters cast ballots for four school board members and members of Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District. A state referendum also asked voters to allow bonding power for the maintenance of non-state prisoners.

Yet an election two years earlier garnered quite a bit more voter attention.

In 1993, three Moffat County school board members crowded the ballot but so did a question to increase a state tax for tourist items. Moffat County voters killed the decision in a 1,565 to 1,212 vote. Forty-three percent of registered voters cast ballots for that election.

According to recent figures, 5,669 voters or almost 70 percent of Moffat County residents are active registered voters. Eleven percent of registered voters failed to vote in 2000 and almost 20 percent failed to vote in 2002.

It's unclear how many voters will come out for the Nov. 4 election.

But with five measures on the ballot, including a controversial city item to construct a recreational center, it's no surprise that talk about the issues have caused waves.

Some election interest is evident even with future voters at the high school level.

"I think it'd be cool to have a say about what government does," said Camilla Bird. The 17-year-old is serving this year as an election judge, a role she got involved in through an American Government class at Moffat County High School.

The issue over whether the city should construct a recreational center showed up on the radar screen of high school student Kyle Morris.

"I'm definitely for the rec center," he said.

Though one year shy of the voting age, Morris said he knew how he'd vote.

He was against Referendum A, a measure for the state to create bonding in building more water storage. But Morris agreed on Referendum 33, an initiative aimed to increase tourism dollars.

"I think tourism is a good thing," he said. "I don't think the gambling part would be such a problem."

At the polls this year, Sullivan and Herod said the biggest difference is requiring identification from everyone.

A valid photo ID includes a Colorado driver's license, an identification card from the Department of Revenue, a valid pilot's license from the FAA, or a United States military ID. Other forms of accepted ID include a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the elector, or at last four digits of a social security number.

The latest ID requirement hit home for Herod recently.

"I had to ID my husband,"

she said.

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