Garfield County voters turn out in record numbers
Whether the issues, the candidates or voter awareness got people off the couch and to the polls, voters in Garfield County made a point to vote Tuesday, breaking Garfield County’s voter turnout record.The previous record in the county was 62 percent, according to County Clerk Mildred Alsdorf. Tuesday, a little over 70 percent of registered voters went to the polls, as 20,508 out of 29,220 registered voters voted.Although the turnout was record-breaking, Alsdorf had expected as many as 75 percent of registered voters to vote.Nationally, a little less than 60 percent of registered voters voted in 2004, compared with 51 percent in 2000 and 49 percent in 1996, according to the Federal Election Commission and the Study of the American Electorate.”I think voter turnout’s been high only because the absentee ballot turnout was huge,” said Barb Bradshaw, who manned Precinct 9 at Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs.More than 11,000 voters voted early or opted for absentee ballots, Alsdorf said.At Precinct 9, half of the 811 voters voted early or by absentee ballot, Bradshaw said. She’s worked the Precinct 9 poll for four or five years and said 2004 saw a higher voter turnout than previous years.Generally, young voters ages 18-24 are least likely to vote, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.”Now everything that happens applies to me because I’m over 18,” said Jamie Nelson, 19, of Glenwood.Tuesday Nelson went to the polls with her mom and stepdad for the second time. Nelson votes every year, regardless of whether it’s a presidential election, because everyone should vote for things affecting them, she said.”As long as I can have a say in it, I’ll vote,” Nelson said.
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