Craig election draws higher-than-usual voter turnout
Craig — Craig voters turned out in force for the April 4 city election compared to local elections past, according to near-official numbers from Craig City Clerk Kathy Larson.
With little expected to change once the vote count is made official Thursday, turnout in the 2017 election stands at 51 percent, a new record in recent years.
“We were very happy with the returns,” Larson said of the 2,349 votes cast, most of them by mail ballot. A total of 4,621 ballots were mailed to registered voters.
The percentage may seem low, but readily trumps past participation in city elections, always held on odd years in April. In 2015, 44 percent of registered voters cast their votes and in 2011, only 38 percent voted, according to data provided by Larson.
“We had seven people running for city council for three positions, and the mayor’s race, I think it was the most advertised and publicized race ever,” said Mayor-elect John Ponikvar. “I think more people were engaged in this election than ever before.”
The last four elections, dating back to 2011, have all been by mail-in ballot. Turnout was even lower in 2009 at 31 percent, when voters could only vote at polling places.
“That’s really why people like the mail ballot because you can get a better return,” Larson said. “Our council really liked the mail ballot returns… so they opted to go with the mail ballot for the last three or four elections, but now the state has stepped in and mandated that every one has to use mail ballots.”
Voter turnout is typically lower for local and midterm elections. Colorado’s turnout in November’s presidential election was 72.1 percent, the fourth highest in the nation, according to Nonprofit Vote. The national turnout was 60.2 percent.
Moffat County voters tend to turn out in stronger numbers during presidential elections as well, with 65 percent voting in the 2016 election, 66 percent in 2012 and 69 percent in 2008, according to data from Moffat County Elections Director Tori Pingley.
The last two midterm elections have drawn 53 percent voter participation, with participation in the last two off-year county elections at only 34 percent in 2015 and 42 percent in 2013, according to Pingley.