High voter participation means democracy wins in 2016 | CraigDailyPress.com

High voter participation means democracy wins in 2016

Sasha Nelson
For first-time voters Jonathan Marroquin, Dylan Munden, Alexander Pollok and Emily Womble, not all of the election results were as they had hoped, but each intends to stay engaged and vote in future elections.
Sasha Nelson

— Elections are won and lost by the numbers and the numbers — 66 and 87 — indicate that this year democracy won.

In Moffat County 10,063 people were registered to vote including 5,333 Republicans, 1,252 Democrats, 3,341 unaffiliated and 137 affiliated with a third party and a total of 66 percent or 6,609 voted, according to data provided by the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Only the 2008 Presidential election saw more participation with 69 percent of registered voters participating, according to data from the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Since 2014, Colorado has distinguished active from inactive voters with both types eligible to vote, but only active voters are sent ballots in the mail, according to the Colorado Secretary of State election rules.

There were 7,666 active voters in Moffat County with 6,609 people voting that means 87 percent of active voters in Moffat County voted in this year’s election, the highest voter participation recorded with many new voters.

“For as long as I can remember I always wanted to vote. It makes you feel like you have a voice and can control something,” said first-time voter Dylan Munden.

High voter turnout resulted in close contests and surprising results here and nationally.

“I really like to see a contest. It seems more fair to me when someone really has to work for that position,” said Democrat Lois Wymore.

Many factors motivated people to vote this year including family tradition.

“I voted a day early at the courthouse. My grandmother, Ruth Schneider, is a first generation American who came to this county early in the 20th century and emphasized how important it is to vote,” said first time voter Alexander Pollok. “It is integral to America.”

One of the surprises in Tuesday’s presidential election was the number of Latinos voting for Trump that according to national exit polling data provided by Pew Research Center, favored Clinton, but fell short of the support Obama enjoyed in 2012.

First time voter Jonathan Marroquin who is Hispanic said that he wasn’t going to vote, “but during the primaries what Trump said about Hispanics set us off and caused me to vote, to unite as a people.”

Another closely watched demographic were female voters that supported Clinton over Trump by 54 percent to 42 percent, according to Pew Research Center’s 2016 Election Report.

Pressure from friends and family, not gender, encouraged Emily Womble, a Millennial woman to vote for the first time in this year’s election.

“I think I was unbiased when I made my decision, all they did was to get me to actually vote. I’ve never cared if our president was male or female as long as they did a good job,” she said.

Voter apathy has been a perennial issue in America, so keeping people engaged after 2016 is already on the minds of many.

That includes Craig’s Connie Sue Ellis, who posted on her Facebook page, “Let us not retreat, but rather press on toward the goal, maintain that level of interest and involvement, stay involved in what is happening in America. Let us never fall into sleepy apathy again.”

Record voter turnout in Moffat County and across the nation makes democracy a clear winner in this year’s election and sets a new benchmark for future participation.

“Teach your children to invest their minds in being a part of governing this nation,” Ellis said. “Stay strong, America. If nothing else, this election has awakened a nation. Let’s stay alert.”

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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