Primary turnout improves

61 percent of county Republicans cast ballots

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In a state where most counties reported declining voter turnout, Moffat County residents were the overachievers.

Though area voter turnout wasn't at the top of Colorado's list, Moffat County Deputy Clerk and Recorder Lila Herod said the Aug. 10 turnout beat the last two primaries by a long shot.

In Moffat County, 32 percent of registered voters made it to the polls, compared to 25 percent in the 2002 primary and 23 percent in the 2000 primary.

The turnout ties Moffat County for a 13th-place finish statewide.

"People are so apathetic," Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Elaine Sullivan said. "So many unaffiliated voters didn't want to declare a party."

Other counties faced a similar problem, unique to primary elections where a party affiliation is a must.

In primarily unaffiliated San Juan County, 163 people cast ballots.

"People here aren't interested in the primary," San Juan County Clerk and Recorder Dorothy Zanoni said. "Most of us are unaffiliated. We're not interested in the Republicans or Democrats."

Clerk and recorders across the state weren't happy with voter turnout, nor were they surprised.

"We thought we had a really low turnout," Washington County Clerk and Recorder Garland Wahl said about her county's 47 percent turnout. "Normally we have a better turnout."

"We were so disappointed," Huerfano Clerk and Recorder Judy Benine said. "Usually the primary is at about 57 percent turnout."

Thirty percent of Huerfano County voters made it to the polls.

Expectations are higher for the Nov. 2 General Election.

Herod has already had more than 500 requests for absentee ballots for the November election.

In a Republican-dominated county, Republican voices were loud and clear. Sixty-one percent of the county's 3,666 registered Republicans voted. Not quite 39 percent of 1,225 Democrats voted.

There was a change this year that had election officials anticipating a larger turnout. Nine precincts were combined at one polling place -- The Centennial Mall.

People had to wait longer to get an over-the-counter hunting license than they had to wait to vote this year.

"Usually I have to stand in line," Moffat County resident Leon Christopher said. "This is different. It's not too bad."

Volunteer election judges said they received mostly positive comments about the change.

"I've only heard good comments," student judge Chelsey Herod said.

The Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office has asked that anyone with comments about the change call 824-9104.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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