Slight decrease in voter turnout for Craig's municipal election

— Voter turnout for Tuesday’s city election was down slightly from the most recent municipal elections but still significantly higher than 2009, the last election year before Craig moved to mail-only ballots.

Election officials mailed out 3,996 ballots to active Craig voters last month. Active voters are those who voted in last November’s general election. The city has a total of 6,215 registered voters.

By the time all ballots were counted Tuesday evening, 1,611 voters had cast ballots this year, a turnout of 26 percent. Only 40 percent of sent ballots were completed and returned, a decrease from the 2011 municipal election, which was the city’s first to be conducted exclusively by mail.

In 2011, 3,174 ballots sent out to registered voters living in the city limits. Of those, 1,638 were returned, or 52 percent.

Paul Nelson has been a Craig resident since 1998 and said Tuesday that he’s voted in at least half of the municipal elections since moving here.

“If I hear about them, I vote,” Nelson said. “Especially since they’ve moved to the mail-in ballot. It’s nice.”

Nelson said the convenience of mail ballots allows him more time to look at information about candidates and therefore to make more informed decisions.

It appears he’s not alone in that regard.

Voter turnout increased by about 1,000 people between 2009 and 2011. The 2009 municipal election was held at polling places and brought out only 640 voters. That compares to the 1,638 who voted by mail ballot in 2011.

Aaron Gillett has lived in Craig for eight years but said she is just now getting more involved. She cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election — the first time she has voted in a municipal election since moving to Craig.

Gillett said the mail-in ballot was not the reason she decided to participate this year. In fact, she said it made no difference in her decision.

“I’m getting older and getting more into politics,” Gillett said.

She said issues such as marijuana and taxes were important to her and the reason she casted a ballot.

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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