Turnout good, but no record


Newscasters across the nation repeated the same phrase, "record turnout," in the fill-in-the-blank county, in the fill-in-the-blank state.

But that wasn't the case in Moffat County.

A 66 percent voter turnout Tuesday didn't quite exceed the record. The 1992 general election drew 73 percent of voters. The bright spot is that this is the most voters Moffat County has had at the polls.

"It was still an awesome turnout," Moffat County Deputy Clerk and Recorder Lila Herod said.

Despite the more than 3,000 voters who requested early or absentee ballots, election judges reported steady lines at the polls, bringing the total voter turnout to 5,720.

Fifty-two provisional and about 13 emergency ballots remain to be reviewed.

Residents arrived at the polls on a mission, with few seeming to be one of the legions of undecided voters expected to determine the outcome of this election.

"I think this election is more important that any I can remember," Moffat County resident Don Beckett said. "Especially after what happened in 2000."

Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Elaine Sullivan reported few problems at the polls, saying the concept of centralizing nine precincts at the Centennial Mall was working wonderfully, even during the busy general election.

Although the number of phone calls was down during previous elections, officials staffing the Clerk and Recorder's Office said there still were a fair amount of calls.

Most wanted to know where they voted.

One voter who arrived at the courthouse early this morning to cast a ballot was dismayed, and a little angry, Herod said, when she was told she needed to vote at the Centennial Mall.

Children weren't an uncommon sight at the polls Tuesday.

Elizabeth Deitrich said her 4-year-old daughter has collected an "I voted" sticker because she was still being toted around in a basket.

Voting is important to Deitrich, she said, and she plans to instill that value in her children.

"Women went through a lot to get the vote here and I can't think of any reason not to vote, even when recovering from pneumonia," she said.

Deitrich was a missionary in Africa for four years and saw a "democracy" where people had to vote a certain way or risk their lives.

"I lived in a country where I couldn't vote," she said.

Jana Parziali sat on a bench at the Centennial Mall, content to wait for the next polling box to open. There were few occasions Tuesday when Moffat County voters had to stand in line, but those who did used the time to catch up with friends and acquaintances.

"I feel like this is my civic duty," she said. "This is a really important election."

A family of four came in to vote together, each goading and encouraging one another. With them was 19-year-old Amy Leach, voting for only the second time.

"Because my vote is going to count," she said. "This election's a big deal, but I'll always vote."

Her brother, Matt, 21, also voted. He said family influence drove him to the polls this year, but he didn't discount television.

"I have to vote because Puff Daddy said so," he said.

Just before 2 p.m. Christie Sikes came in -- halfway through a 10-hour shift and wearing her Memorial Hospital name tag.

"I finally said 'I'm leaving. I haven't eaten or voted,'" she said. "I still haven't voted."

She said that likely reflects her priorities.

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